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31 August 2016 @ 03:45 pm
But the Horror of the Shade: Epilogue  


Thirteen years later

“Are you ready?” George asked, pausing his efforts to put more groceries in the boot of the car.

Nina rolled her eyes and dug her keys out of her pocket.

“You ask me this now?”

“What better time?” he asked. “It’s not like we can put it off any longer.”

“No, we can’t do that,” Nina agreed and didn’t answer his question.

George didn’t push it; after all, neither of them would ever fully be ready. It didn’t really change anything though. They were simply parents, responsible to their child. A child who was no longer a child. Eve was turning eighteen in a few days and they were throwing her a party.

It was going to be bigger than George liked his parties these days. It was funny how much he preferred to just be at home now…not because he was trying to hide who he was from the world, but because it was just nicer being at home than anywhere else. He was comfortably middle-aged and he liked it that way.

Having Mitchell and Annie home from their globe-trotting experience would be nice and he was looking forward to catching up with them. It was even going to drag Tom and his wife around. In fact, it would probably be a lot of adults at the party. Eve had had a rather singular childhood, George reflected, since none of the couples she’d been raised by could have other children. That’s what came of adopting werewolves, vampires, and ghosts as aunts and uncles.

Once she’d properly entered school she’d been able to make friends and get a social life but too often the family’s secrets had kept her from being as popular as George was sure she could have been. He did slightly regret that, but it wasn’t something any of them could have helped and no one was more fiercely protective of their secret than Eve. She had a devious, scheming streak to her that George was convinced came directly from Mitchell, but she steadfastly stood up for what she thought was right and he knew that was Nina’s influence. Perhaps the only thing she’d really gotten from him was a passion for coasters and clean kitchens, but that was important in his opinion.

Now that she was a grown up and they couldn’t protect her from going out into the world, she needed to be armed with all the information about herself and their family so she could make good decisions. Not that they’d been lying to her all this time, but they’d kept back some of the big things. Eve certainly knew about werewolves and vampires and that she had the ability to change them, but she didn’t know about the prophecy or the battle that had raged over her except as a very distant memory.

“Will she hate us?” George said, getting into the car.

“Maybe,” said Nina, turning the key in the ignition, “but that doesn’t really matter.”

“It matters a little,” George argued.

“Fine,” said Nina. “But my point is that this is the right thing to do no matter the cost to ourselves. Besides, we’ve raised her, George, and love her with everything in us. Eighteen years of happiness is not going to be washed away by something that’s only a tag on the truth anyway. Don’t be a drama queen.”

“Says you,” grumbled George.

“Do I have to wolf out and subdue you?” she asked.

George raised his eyebrow and sputtered a little.

Nina chuckled and reached over her hand to touch his. He grasped her hand and held it tightly, the unspoken words of reassurance passing between them.

When they got home Eve had already decorated half of the house.

“What are you doing, Eve?” Nina demanded. “The birthday girl doesn’t do the work for her own party.”

“I’m just helping,” said Eve. “I would be bored stiff if I didn’t.”

“Then go and grab some of the food from the car,” said George, jerking his head toward the door.

“Sure, Da,” she said, her old pet name for him falling naturally from her lips.

George couldn’t stop a glow of happiness and then started worrying the very next second.

“Stop it,” said Nina and he glared at her.

It was ridiculous how well she knew him.

They worked together, the three of them, getting as much done for the next day as possible. George had Eve finish putting up the decorations since she had much more of an artistic flair than he would ever have. He busied himself cleaning and putting things away. Nina followed along behind both of them, perfecting and supervising, as she said laughingly.

“When are they coming?” asked Eve, tucking her hair behind her ears, stepping down from the step stool.

“Who knows with them,” said George. “Annie can have them here in two seconds so why not go and look at another landmark?”

“You’re just jealous,” said Eve, popping up on her tip toes to kiss his cheek and barely making it.

She’d definitely got her mother’s height.

“Spot on,” remarked Nina.

“Well, if they’re not here yet, can we talk about what the two of you have been freaking out about for the past month?” said Eve.

George stopped dead and stared at her and she grinned mischievously back.

“What the hell?” he said.

“Come on,” said Eve. “You’re obviously doing some kind of ‘Eve’s an adult now’ talk and I’m dying to find out what it is. Considering the things I already know about this family it’s got to be good.”

“Don’t wish too hard, young lady,” said Nina. She threw down the towel she was drying her hands with and sat down at the table. “Sit down.”

Eve sat down and George pulled up a chair beside Nina, holding her hand.

“Spill,” said Eve, brightly and expectantly.

They spilled, eloquently and fully, and despite the number of times George had practiced this speech over the years, he was surprised at how hard he found it to form words.

It took a while to tell her everything that had happened over the last twenty odd years, the various vampires who had attempted to harm them, the number of werewolves who had tried to get them to have Eve turn them, and she kept interrupting but they were finally done and George desperately needed some water for his dry throat.

“It’s a lot to take in,” said Nina.

“No kidding,” said Eve with all the bluntness of a teenager.

“Are you all right, Princess?” asked George.

Eve’s hands were trembling and she kept staring at them.

“Obviously not, Da,” she said. “I mean, it’s not every day you find out you’re supposed to be some kind of savior or destroyer or whatever.”

“No,” said Nina calmly, but she was gripping George’s hand way too tightly. “But the glory of it is that the choice is yours, Eve. No one but you needs to decide what you do with that information. You can never speak of it again if you want and no one would blame you or question it.”

“I might,” said Eve and she sat there for several quiet minutes. George could practically see her mind racing, sorting through the facts, accepting and processing. “Well,” she said finally, blowing out some air through her teeth, “not much I can do about it tonight.”

“Probably not,” said George.

“Can I ambush everyone else and make them tell me things?” asked Eve.

“All you like,” said George.

Eve nodded and still seemed distracted, which George didn’t blame her for. When she looked back at them, her eyes had tears swimming in them.

“Am I good?” she asked finally. “I mean, can I be good?”

George had never had his heart broken so quickly but it was Nina who got up and put her arms around Eve.

“How dare you suggest otherwise,” Nina said fiercely, then instantly flushed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to- I just mean… Eve, you are the best good there is.”

“Really?” asked Eve in a small voice.

Nina nodded and smiled.

“I’ve never doubted it for a second.”

“Nor I,” put in George.

“Well, that’s something,” said Eve.

“If I ever hear you doubting yourself like that again, you’ll think the two month’s grounding when you were eleven was child’s play,” Nina said, clearly trying to lighten the mood.

Eve laughed a little bit, but she still looked lost when she looked at George and he gaped at her like a fish, hating that he had no good answers for her.

“Maybe we’re the bad ones,” he finally said softly. Eve looked confused. “We didn’t tell you before,” he said. “We brought you into this world and it’s our job to protect you.”

“Useless,” Eve said, her joke falling flat. She shook her head and held out a hand to George who took it. “No, maybe we’re all just who we are.”

“Sounds very wise to me,” said Nina, stepping back and putting her hands on Eve’s shoulder, looking her in the eyes. “You are Eve Anne Sands-Pickering and you are loved and you will figure this out.”

“Whatever you say, Mum,” said Eve. “I think I need a minute,” she said, standing up. “I’ll go and feed the pigs, okay? Come and get me if they arrive before I get back.”

George watched her go and he turned to Nina, whispering quickly.

“Do we let her go? Will she be okay? What do we do?”

“We let her go and sort things out,” said Nina, her lips pinched together.

“I hate that,” said George.

“Oh, me, too,” said Nina.

“I’m proud of her,” said George.

“Oh, me, too,” said Nina, leaning against him.

They walked to the window and watched their daughter cross the yard as if towards a new life, which path she would take exactly was uncertain, but George had no doubt that she would choose the perfect path, even if it took her a little while to get there.