The morning sun was streaming through the windows when I gained consciousness. Instinctively I pulled away from the light - though it couldn't hurt me through the glass. Tempy, who was curled up beside me, stirred in her sleep as I moved. "Shh.." I picked her up carefully and laid her in my bed, tucking the covers around her.
I quietly cleaned myself up and was surprised, yet thrilled, to still feel the little man's presence tucked in my abdomen. "Thanks for hanging around." I whispered, stretching out my sore limbs. Sleeping on the floor - albeit not by choice - left me feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.
What had happened? Why had I passed out?
I couldn't remember any pain and I was obviously still pregnant but people don't just pass out at random. I crawled into bed next to Tempy and pulled out the pregnancy books Annaliese had gotten me. Although they were primarily about human pregnancies, there was one about vampires but it was depressing so I never looked at it very thoroughly.
I didn't find any answers before drowsiness overtook me again but I vowed to take it easy if possible. Seemed oh so doable as I snuggled my daughter and drifted off to sleep.
And it was, for awhile anyway.
I was seven months along and the pregnancy seemed to be on course for a successful delivery. I'd told no one about the incident save Tempy as she was there. She'd grown like a weed in the last few months and it was obvious she was too old for her crib now so Annaliese, Tempy and I were flipping through a furniture catalog together looking for a bed when Robert threw open the door.
"What is she doing here?" he snarled at Tempy, who tried to hide herself behind my leg.
"Sh-she's your daughter...she lives here..." Definitively not the truth on either account really. She was not his daughter and hadn't truly lived here in months but he hadn't seemed to take note of either of those facts.
"Liar!" he shouted, lumbering toward me, his hands outstretched. "THAT. Is. NOT. MY. Daughter!"
"Robert...consider the baby..." Annaliese piped up, trying to calm him.
"Momma..." Tempy tugged at my shirt anxiously.
"Shh, it's okay sweetie." I said quietly.
"No...no I think it's not! I'll not have that bastard child in my house!" he sneered at me and I couldn't help but wonder what had prompted this recent rage.
"I'll take her then." Annaliese volunteered quickly.
"No!" Robert turned on her, backing her against the wall. I knew Annaliese only backed down for the sake of Tempy and I. "She'll have a proper vampire education...it's time she goes to school."
"She's barely four!" I protested quickly, gripping her tightly to my side.
"She's of proper age..." Robert replied simply. His face was no longer contorted with anger but he was driven.
I looked to Annaliese for help but she merely nodded sadly. "He's right...there ARE schools that will take her at this age..." she looked like she was holding something back.
I wanted to push her for more information but Tempy was trembling and shaking her head vigorously against me. "No Mommy, please! I don't want to go...please!
"I...I..." How could I tell her that I couldn't protect her? It was my JOB to protect her and there was nothing I could do! "B-but, school will be fun." I lied, kneeling in front of her. "Won't it be fun to meet new children and to learn how to read and write..."
"I wanna stay here Mommy! I want you..." Tears were pooling her eyes and I quickly blinked away my own.
"I'll find her a placement..." Annaliese offered. "If it suits you Robert." she added quickly. He waved her off, clearly not too concerned with WHERE Tempy went as long as she wasn't here. "I'll take care of it Luna, I promise." she said.
"See, Aunt Lele will make sure you have a great school. And..." I trembled as I tried to think of the words to comfort her. We'll all be together always.
Always. Jared's voice mingled with mine at the end and it seemed to help bolster her.
She nodded slowly, clearly having heard the words I'd intended for her.
"You promise me you'll be a good girl? Make lots of friends?" I said, plastering a fake smile on my face. She nodded and after an extended hug, I released her into Annaliese's care. "Promise?" I asked again - mostly for Annaliese.
Annaliese nodded discreetly. "Come Tempy, we'll go gather your things."
"There now, that's better. No more distractions or interruptions." Robert said after they'd left. He crossed the room, backing me against the wall. "If she'd been a boy I wouldn't have cared that I wasn't the father...as she's a girl, I have no use of her and nor do you."
He left silently, without laying a hand on me, and yet I trembled in anger and fear and sadness. I sunk to the ground and began to sob. I had to trust that Annaliese would protect her or I would fall apart!
It was that night, after Tempy had left the house for good and I was a puddle of nerves and emotion, that I started feeling the signs of on coming labor. At first I tried to ignore it, laying down on my side as all the books suggested.
But the contractions didn't stop or slow down. I could call Annaliese but she had charge of Tempy and the last thing I wanted was to change his mind and let HIM pick what happened to her.
If I summoned Robert he would only rage as I was a full two months early. A normal human child wouldn't survive being born this early without medical help - would a vampire child? I suspected even vampire powers wouldn't help the babe. "Oh please little guy, just...not yet..."
But he didn't listen - nobody ever seemed to listen to me.
The contractions seemed to drag on for hours on end, every one a bit more intense than the last but no closer to the end of the thing. Nearly ten hours of this passed with out anyone coming to my room.
It was Annaliese who discovered me in my pitiful state. "I found her a wonderful school for supernatural children...Robert probably wouldn't approve if he knew the truth of it..." she was flipping through some papers and didn't seem to notice me at first until I cried out in pain.
"Oh lord no!" the papers scattered as she dropped them to reach for me. "How long?"
"All night.." I croaked out, tearing at her sleeve.
"It's too soon...I can summon a doctor, a vampire doctor I mean..." she was nervous and shaking. She was a rock and she was shaking. This wasn't good.
No doctor would be summoned, there wasn't time. Vincent Van Allen came into the world silently. He shed no tears and uttered but one shallow raspy breath before he left the world just as quietly.
Together, Annaliese and I cleaned him up and wrapped him in a blanket. I kept hoping he'd open his wee little eyes but it didn't happen. "Too beautiful for Earth." I whispered into his ear as I cradled him.
After kissing his forehead, I placed him in Annaliese's arms. "If...If I...put him next to Jared and tell Tempy how much I love her..."
She reached out to stop me but I wrenched out of her grasp.
Every step toward Robert's room required a new consideration of my choices but in the end, there I was, standing at his door. Without preamble, I spoke, "I've delivered a son. His name is Vincent...he had beautiful blue eyes." My words were barely audible and my vision became blurry as the unshed tears clouded my eyes.
"You killed him didn't you?" Robert snarled.
He raged for several minutes about my uselessness and about his former wives. His speech was jumbled and seemed to have no clear direction but I said nothing for several minutes. "I think you've outlived your usefulness Luna." he said finally.
In a flash he had his hand on my neck. The fingers tightening to the point that I could see spots. It wouldn't kill me though. "R-Rob.." Trying to make words come out was futile though as he tightened his grip further.
"What was that? Did you want to say something?" he sneered. "I should kill you - you've gotten four more years than you should have already...why is it, after all, that you haven't died? How do you keep living!?"
Because I'm still here.
With a jerk, his hand dropped and I stumbled backwards toward the source of the voice. As ever there was no body to accompany the voice but he was there. Jared was there.
"That's not possible!" Robert recoiled, recognizing his son's voice right off. For a second I thought I'd be able to get away for the night but as I made a move for the door, he grabbed me and pulled me toward him. "Where do you think you're going?"
I tried to fight my way out his grip but having just given birth, I was weak and frankly I just didn't care much.
"Oh yeah, fight me - will make ending your life justifiable. As if I need a reason..." he had pulled off my clothes and leaned in close to me. "And after I'm done with you - I'll take care of the brat, then maybe your sisters...of course if I wait a few years...I could try my luck with one of them."
"NO!" I shouted. I felt the heat coursing through my body as the years of rage took over and yanked free of him.
"What did you say?!" he was already on top of me again but I held out my hand to stop him and was amazed to see it smoking as if I were touched by the sun.
I'm not sure who was more shocked when the small flame burst from he palm of my hand. I stared at it in wonder and tried to think of what was happening but none of it made sense! Fire doesn't just come from no where!
Never mind the HOW Luna, use it!
A small, slightly wicked smile formed on my mouth then.
"What are you g-going to do?" Robert was backing away from me this time! HE was backing away from ME! I could have laughed from the irony of it all.
I quickly considered the possibilities and then threw the growing ball of fire directly at him.
Of course I wasn't a great aim but it caught his shoulder and then the curtains and the furniture around him.
Fire and vampires don't generally mix. He fell to the ground trying to put the fire out but everything around him was catching quickly. I backed toward the door, away from the flames of my own making. I slammed the door behind me as I ran for my own room to throw on a jacket before getting the hell out of there.
I was on the landing of the stairs when I heard the inhuman shrieks coming from his room. Hadn't he got out? Did I get him that badly?
I shouldn't go back in there! But I did, I couldn't help it!
The door opened and I wasn't surprised to find the fire consuming everything in the room. Robert was slumped against the edge of his burning bed and I thought, perhaps, he was dead already but I could still see him moving.
Luna! Get out! Leave him!
"Yeah yeah I know!" I shouted at the voice of my love. But I ignored his pleas and ran into the flames. They didn't scald me or burn, they seemed to yield to me actually.
"You're more..." he coughed violently a few times, "m-more useful th-than I thought."
"I'm a lot more than you thought." I spat. "I think this place is going to burn tonight...and you with it."
"You could save me..." he didn't sound like he was expecting me to, just pointing it out.
"I could." I conceded.
"But you won't."
I shook my head. "No, I won't. I'm not quite THAT good a person." I walked back toward the door, flicking the flames off me. "Oh, but I will take your hat...I've always fancied it." I plucked the scorched hat from his head. "Burn in hell Robert Van Allen."
I practically flew through every room, calling for Annaliese to make sure she was gone before hurrying out to the crypt. My sweet baby boy was laying still as a statue next to Jared's body as I'd instructed her. I hoped that meant she was gone - gone to protect Tempy!
"Thank you Jared!" I called out loud. "I leave Vincent here in your care..." I leaned over and kissed the baby on the forehead one more time. "I'm sorry I couldn't give you more." I whispered.
I was about to leave when another form floated into view from the shadows of the crypt. "You're not blame young one." Her voice sounded far off and distinctly separate from her body, well her form anyway.
"Annaliese?" I asked in shock. "How? What?"
"No, no I am not my dear sister." she had a sad little smile on his face.
"You're Jared's mother! You look A LOT like your sister!" I exclaimed, stepping closer to her to get a better look.
"Yes - yes, I've heard. But no time for that. You must leave this place before it all is consumed but the fire..."
"The fire! Oh damn the fire, I don't even know how..." I stared at my hands again, recalling the feeling of the open flame on them.
"It is your inheritance Luna Taffity, a gift - or a curse - saved for a time it was desperately needed. You've used it well." she said. "Now, I will look over my son and your babe - it's time for you to fly my daughter in law."
"But I...Jared and I never..." I started to protest but she enclosed me in a spooky ghostly hug. "Right. Thank you."
As I left, I glanced back and saw her standing serenely over Jared's thus unchanged body.
I silently said goodbye to them all and ran outside...where the sun had begun it's slow and steady ascent into the sky.
The upper floor of house near Robert's bedroom were spewing flames from the windows but the rest of the house looked untouched thus far. Soon though. Soon it would all be ash.
Though I tried to stay in the shadows, the kiss of the sun was scalding and burned as I ran for the outer gate. I couldn't seem to make my finger work right on the code box though and the gate was unwilling to yield to my pleas.
I was prepared, though unhappy at the prospect, to meet my end laying there at the gate of the Van Allen estate. With one final ounce of energy, I flipped over so I could watch the flames tear apart the old house.
If I were going to die, I would die with a view of my final victory. My final act to save my family.
The roof had just fallen in over Robert's room when I felt firm arms on me. A thick blanket or coat was thrown over my body and I was being lifted from the ground.
A/N: There were firefighters a LONG time ago in the Taffity family and they've always had the either the Immune to Fire or Pyro trait. Luna has Pyro. :P