Memories (Completed)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 22
22

The silence that had haunted us as we ran back to the cabin hung around while we took our seats. I felt awkward as I sat between James and Demetrius, trapped in the middle of their hate-filled looks. Though, when their eyes trailed back to me, there was concern filling them. From James it was a feeling of love that emerged from the stare, but from Demetrius it was a guilty feel. A feeling that it was my fault that there would never be a chance for us to be together.

“You don’t want to do this, and you know it,” Demetrius whispered, trying to convince me against my thoughts.

“It’s over, Demetrius.” Then in a smaller voice, “It isn’t something that I can keep. It isn’t like my feelings towards Molly’s party planning. This is something I have to overcome.”

“And they can help you, but I can't?” His eyes were grave. “I've been with you for seventeen years.”

I squeezed his hand, a very affectionate gesture for me. “At this point, I need all the help that I can get.” I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, leaning back into the chair. James put an arm around me, making up for the friendly gesture I had shown towards Demetrius with a boyfriend-girlfriend one. “My father,” I began, “and I were very close. He was a good father, a great one, really. Caring. Understanding. Loving.” Memories rushed back, filling me with love and loneliness. “He died that day. September 1st, 1997. On my fifth birthday.”

I closed my eyes, letting the memory engulf me as I described it. “I was born at midnight, and Molly—well, Molly is sorta irresponsible, and we were out, getting some last minute party supplies and my birthday present at that time.” I remembered how tired I had been that day. How sick I was of shopping. “We arrived home about an hour later, at one, and I saw my dad’s car outside—the prettiest Mercury that you could find those days. He had been on a business trip for a month. I was so excited that he was home, so I ran inside, hoping to surprise him.”

The darkness of the summer night suddenly surrounded me. It was like I had gone back in time, back to the day of my birthday. There was a summer’s breeze playing with my long hair as I bounced inside the large house. The inside had been decorated differently back then. The place was still full of flowers and a chandelier still hung in every room, but the furnishing and carpets and wallpaper were all different. The lobby was a warm dark blue, like the one at James’s suite in Crystal Flower. Everything looked like it was sparkling because of how many gorgeous crystal decorations surrounded it. Well, it would have looked like that if everything hadn't been wrecked.

The house was trashed. Every priceless decoration and furniture destroyed and shattered, and scratches on a couple of the walls, as if someone had taken a rake and purposely scratched it. Drops of blood were spattered on some of the walls and carpet. The scene was the kind in a horror film at the crime scene.

I called for Molly. She came running, startled by my screams. Her expression blanked, her mouth dropped, and face turned pale as she took in the scenery. Her hand came up to her mouth as she gasped. Right then she looked like she was about to faint.

“Lumex, where is your father?” she asked, her voice hoarse as if she’d overused her voice.

My response was shaky and tearful. “I don’t know!” I cried.

Panicking, I looked around. I was doing pretty good for a five year old at that moment. I hadn't completely broken down, scared by the scene, like a normal small child would. Instead, I teared up, yes, but pulled myself together enough that I didn’t have to be carried and consoled by my mother.

Just then, her look changed so much, that I hardly recognized her. She turned serious and determined. It was a pure look that I hardly ever saw in anybody. “We have to find him.”

I agreed to it and we searched the house like a pack of search dogs, checking every spot he could be in. I even had to enter and search my dad’s study, the most off limit spot of the house. That was where I had gotten my first glance at the archaic lunate. The whole two story house was torn up, every room checked at least twice by each of us, and we still couldn’t find him.

Maybe he isn’t home, I hoped. Maybe he just had someone bring his car over here and he carpooled like Mom does sometimes.

My little heart was beating in my ears so fast that I couldn’t keep up with its uneven beat. I pushed my legs, running to the next room and next room. I was panting and sweaty from searching, and I still couldn’t find him.

“Did you find Daddy, Mommy?” I asked shaking. I could barely move anymore. I was tired of running and tired of being frightened by this mystery. I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted to see my parents happy and alive. I wanted to see them safe, not causing a kindergartener a heart attack.

She shook her head. Her bottom lip was torn and bleeding from all the times she had bitten down on it. Her perfect curls were now messy and untamed from the combination of the humidity from outside and the running she had done.

“We’re missing a place. Where—” Her eyes widened when she realized which room it was that we hadn't inspected. “—It can't be. Why would—why would he be in there?” she mumbled, most of her words running together. I knew where he was then.

My room.

“He must have thought I was there and went to say hi,” I suggested.

It was a very smart thing to suggest being the age I was, especially since it only took me a second to come up with the response. Some children wouldn’t have given a response, but most would have said that their dad went to their room in the middle of the night to check for monsters. What I hadn't realized then was that the monsters were actually the people I was living with, but there wasn’t anything to do about that.

“He isn’t like that,” she argued.

It hurt me on the inside to have my mother tell me that my father didn’t care enough to check on me at night, but I was so afraid right then, that the pain seemed to blend in.

On that date, my family would have probably already arrived for my birthday party, but that year they couldn’t book a flight until the last minute. So, they were supposed to arrive on the actual day of my party in the morning. I wished that they had been here already to guard this place. I wish that Connor, our guard at that time, hadn't been out because of his kidney transplant that day. This day was sucking more than I expected.

We ran back upstairs where some bloodstains, that we had failed to see, tainted the hardwood. They led us to a door. The door was scratched and beaten. Blood was spattered on it, and, like the walls downstairs, it looked like a rake had passed over it. On the floor, there was a large pool of red liquid.

That was when my stomach began reacting to blood. That was when my sharper senses began identifying the metallic smell. I think that the bloodlust had even begun acting up a little, because I found myself drooling as I stared at the mysterious red water.

Already, Molly was breaking down, tearing up. A shaky hand reached for the doorknob, shaking it to check if it was locked before pushing the door open. More blood made a trail forward as far as we could see in the dark room.

It was a large room, with fewer windows than the room I had now, so there wasn’t much we could see. Though, there was an open window without a curtain that seemed to point at something. At first, I thought it was the arm of my life size doll, but then I realized the difference.

A pale arm was illuminated by the moonlight. This was the only thing in the house that seemed to be clean. Though, there was a ghostly feeling about that figure. It was like in those moments of suspense in movies when the protagonists are about to reveal a body underneath a sheet. It was as intense as that if not more, because again, movies couldn’t describe the true experience of death. It couldn’t describe what it really meant to be afraid. Slowly, Molly reached for the light switch. When the lights turned on, it was like hell.

Surrounded by a crimson pool, my father’s limp body lay. I ran to his side, not believing my own eyes. His golden eyes were yellow, paled and dull. His chalky pale skin was now gray and dark bruise-like circles were under his eyes. There were scratch marks on his handsome face, and the dark brown hair that always seemed perfect was soaked with blood. Though, out of his chest, right at the center where his heart was located, was a long wooden stake.

Wood is a vampire’s worst enemy. But, I didn’t know that before. Besides from being pulled in by the mouthwatering blood, I was also in denial, telling myself that he would wake up at the moment I pulled the weapon out of his body. I reached for the stake, and Molly pulled me away before I could take it.

“Don’t you ever touch wood. It’ll hurt you.”

I hadn't understood why wood would hurt me, but now the answer was loud and clear. I could die because of that same wood.

“I told you that it was a bad idea,” someone said, bringing me back from my flashback.

I blinked, everything around me setting in. Horrified faces watched me. Something warm trickled down my cheek and I realized that I had started crying. I bit my quivering lip and dug my nails into my thighs, hoping that the pain would stop the tears.

“She never cries! You made her do this!” Demetrius, who had been the one to speak first, exclaimed to James.

James had gone pale—or as pale as a vampire could get—and frozen like water in the freezer. The arm around me was pumping with blood, making me feel both tempted and afraid by what I could do if the scent became too strong.

“You did something,” I said, my voice barely a whisper. My head snapped to look over at James. “What did you do?”

“What?” he exclaimed, breaking out of his trance.

I moved away from him, trusting my instincts that this probably wouldn’t be good. “You’ve talked about blood acting up. That’s what yours is doing. What did you do?

Demetrius grabbed my arm from behind me and pulled me towards him. Right now, I was so afraid of what James might say that I didn’t mind being pulled into Demetrius’s chest.

“Vampires don’t have heartbeats,” Demetrius said suspiciously. “Blood runs through our veins, but it takes a strong emotion to have it act up.” He slowly stood up, studying James’s blank expression. “If you have something to do with this—”

“I don’t,” James said, reclaiming me from Demetrius.

I didn’t like the way he did that, taking me as if I belonged to him, except, I sorta did. I would always belong to James. Even though, I didn’t argue with taking my place back hugging his chest, I didn’t feel as comfortable as I felt before.

“I do my research. My work isn’t sloppy like yours seems to be. I’ve chased her killer ever since the beginning of time. Finally I killed him, but I always make sure that I don’t kill any innocent person. There’s a witch on his side that cast a spell over my entire group. She makes sure that any time we interact with that man, we forget everything: how we killed him, how he looked, what he sounded like—she makes sure we cannot track him again without starting from the beginning,” James argued, his voice never sounding so cruel and angry. “But, I researched that house, finding out everything about who lived in it and what was in it. I broke into the house, gaining data, I studied the people, making sure the others were unimportant—I did everything.”

“You forgot,” Demetrius argued, “that you supposedly have been bewitched.”

“What you don’t realize, Freeze, is that if that had been Lumex’s family, the charm wouldn’t have worked. I would have remembered her.”

“Dark spells are very powerful, only a dark witch would be able to take it back.” Demetrius was fighting hard, trying to make logic out of the way James was changing the laws of nature. It must be that he isn’t used to dealing with having the world turned upside-down right in front of him.

“The Archangel,” Violet’s windpipe voice came from a corner.

Demetrius was startled. He looked at her wide-eyed and then slowly took back his seat. I didn’t understand at all what an archangel was. All I understood was: angel.

“But that’s dangerous,” Demetrius mused. “How could you let her?”

“Nobody wanted it!” James exclaimed. “We know that it’s dangerous, but she’s destined. She’s always been destined.” James unconsciously tightened his grip on my shoulder.

Demetrius sank back into the couch and ran his hands through his hair. “Oh, God,” he sighed, throwing his head back and looking at the wooden ceiling. “This isn’t real.”

“Okay, so you guys are in an argument,” I said. “Would you mind telling me what the hell an Archangel is?”

“Darling, remember when you came to my house and I told you about freeing the gods?” I raised an eyebrow and nodded. “That’s what the Archangel is meant to do.”

“You’re the Archangel,” Demetrius said a little hysterical. “You even have the mark.” He sighed. “I can't believe that I didn’t put it together earlier,” he murmured ashamed to himself.

“Take off your jacket,” James ordered, predicting my next question. I complied. I unzipped my plaid jacket, which revealed an orange halter-top that made my chalky pale skin stand out. He grabbed my arm and gently turned it. “This. Right here.” He pointed at a spot of my skin that was a tone paler, the mark shaped like a rose, which was barely visible under any light. “You’re the Archangel.”

I brushed the mark with the tips of my fingers. “My birthmark…gives me this fate?” I breathed.

“No,” said Scarlett. “Your birthmark explains to us that a greater battle is coming.” She stood up and paced around the small space. “The reason Demetrius is agitated, like James is on the inside, is because someone has to die.”

“It’s either you or the—demon? Whatever,” added Max. “And our opponent will not lose. He won’t let us.”

“Way to stay positive,” Violet mumbled dryly. She stood and walked towards me. “He doesn’t want to lose, but neither do we. We don’t want you to die.” Bending down, she gave me a sympathetic smile. “We’ll always be here for you. Never hesitate to call us for help.”

“No matter how stubborn,” Andrew coughed.

“She’s not going to die,” interrupted Demetrius. “Because I'm going to be with her.” He stood up briskly and brought me with him by the arm. “You aren't going to screw this up like you’ve done every other time.”

“Screwed up?” James exclaimed. He shot up and alongside him, Andrew, Jeff, and Violet, the fighters, followed. “Do you remember what you did thousands of years ago? Do you remember why I couldn’t stop it?”

Demetrius tensed and at the same time, someone put a hand on my shoulder. “Back off, Lumex,” Max said, leading me away from Demetrius and James. “Let them work this out alone.”

“When they get in an argument like this, we can't have you nearby,” Vivian whispered to me.

“But that’s not—” I complained.

“Don’t you start, Lumex,” Scarlett interrupted, eyeing Demetrius warily. “You don’t understand the levels of danger of this subject.” We all went quiet as we watched James and Demetrius argue.

“Are you even a vampire?” Demetrius yelled. “How many times have you experienced the bloodlust?”

“I don’t care if the world depended on you drinking blood, you don’t kill my girlfriend!” James barked. “If you were a real vampire, you would know how to control yourself! You would have taken a precaution!”

“If you haven't noticed, I'm not a perfect pureblood like you! And you were the one supposed to be protecting her! If you know that there’s danger threatening, you don’t leave the victim’s side!”

“Don’t put that over my head,” James said, breaking every word. “Have you even told her what you did? She’s asking me questions that you should have answered a long time ago!”

“How many questions have you actually answered?” Demetrius challenged.

“Why does it matter to you? Are you trying to get him information again?” Violet hissed.

“Are you implying that my only reason for being near Lumex is to gain information for the enemy?”

“Implying isn’t even close,” Andrew snapped. “You only get one chance, and you’ve lost it.”

Andrew and Violet looked like they were about to grow fangs. Their eyes were a swirl of violet and silver.

“Never have you had a chance,” James argued.

I moved around Scarlett and Vivian and then disappeared and reappeared in between James and Demetrius, one hand on each of their chests to keep them from ripping each other’s throats out. “Why don’t you guys calm down and tell me what the hell is going on here,” I said calmly with a killer glare.

“Yes. Why don’t we?” James said icily. He wrapped his arm around my waist and sat me down next to him. I dismissed the puzzled feelings and waited with a raised eyebrow for Demetrius to begin.

Demetrius’s jaw was set, and he looked as if he would object. Finally his tense jaw relaxed, though instead of sitting back down, he stepped back and leaned against the wall. “What do you want to know?” he asked avoiding my gaze.

“First I want to know why you came here. I want to know why you started this whole scene."

“I was hoping we could do research together,” he answered. “I'm used to you denying my dinner invitations,”—James tensed beside me and clenched his teeth—“but this is something you care about. I was going to do interactive research. If I had your permission, of course.”

I didn’t need for him to explain what he meant by “interactive research.” I knew perfectly well what he had envisioned us doing. He had wanted to go into my old room and collect data. He had wanted to look for a mark left by the culprit. The only problem would have been that I wouldn’t have been capable of being in that room for more than two minutes.

James’s teeth clenched, as if he was holding back from arguing about something. It was obvious that he didn’t believe Demetrius. I decided to take his response, avoiding anything that might start a frenzy between him and James. That didn’t stop them from having a stare down, though.

“Last year—at school—, Mr. Parker was talking about that comet that comes around on my birthday and you—you were petrified. What happens on that date?”

Demetrius shifted uncomfortably and the room seemed to freeze. “It is your birthday,” he responded slowly, after the silence had seemed to stretch miles away. I shot him a look, which to my surprise, he saw. He sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair. “Eventide can answer it. He knows the story better.”

I recalled how James had been worked up over the day of the comet. It has to be something bad. Though, at that moment, something clicked together. “You all know about this, don’t you?” I realized as I looked around the room, meeting everyone’s eyes. Grimaces turned into hard, straight lines as the silence stretched for the millionth time in the past two hours. “Can you first of all explain to me why I am the one last to find out about things happening in my future?”

“Let it go, Lumex,” James whispered in my ear. “Just let it go.” I began to argue, but then realized that that was the best thing to do. There was enough to be worried and angry about right now. I shot him another look. This one was telling him to answer my previous question. “Every five hundred years that comet passes by Earth. Every couple of hundred years you are reborn. When those two collide—well, it’s complicated.” He shrugged. “Let me start by saying this: Every Moon creature has its night. Though, it’s not a stereotype like werewolves and full moons. Every couple of years, one of Black Moon’s species gains a tripling of power. You being an everything have your own night. That’s the night of the comet. So, when your birth and the comet collide, it’s a power explosion.”

“And a power explosion….” Violet was cut off.

“Boom boom,” Max finished. “Too much power. Which means that you are a bigger threat for them.”

“And that means that we need you to know as much as possible,” said Scarlett. “That way you do not breakdown when you really shouldn’t.”

James’s head snapped to look at Demetrius with a hateful, smug expression. “Satisfied? So, if I screwed up so much, then why don’t you tell us about Hravart?”

A low noise that sounded like a snarl came from Demetrius. When I looked at him, I saw that his lips had pulled back over his teeth, revealing long, delicately curved fangs. Demetrius paled, changing into a full vampire, and his eyes were gold. Next to me, James’s skin cooled and he began changing, just as Demetrius had. The only difference was that he was defending me instead of attacking somebody else. I hissed.

Pushing James’s arm off me, I walked to the corner where I had dropped my school bag. Swiftly I opened the front pocket and took out a book from there. I zipped up my bag and then moved around the room. I searched for something sharp; wooden.

“Lume, what are you doing?” Demetrius asked, breaking gazes with James and looking at me.

“If you want to fight, that’s one thing. I want answers.”

I entered another room—a bedroom. The room was covered in seashells and nets. The room’s decoration made it seem as if I was at an actual beach. There was even a scent of sea. I wonder who lived here before James owned the place. I tried to imagine someone who could leave such a strong scent, but ended up thinking of a surfer dude every time.

I shook it off and looked around. There was a wooden frame. Did I dare ruin the scene? Just then I remembered the letter opener I had brought with me to slit my wrist today. It was a good thing that I hadn't used it. There was no need for a coppery smell that smelled like me to cling onto the metal like a second skin. I didn’t need them on my trail, thinking that I was suicidal.

I went back into the room where an awkward silence had fallen and took the letter opener. Before I let anyone see what I was carrying, I asked, “Have you all had your blood?” Andrew nodded, but James, Violet, and Demetrius sheepishly shrugged. I sighed. “I hoped that I wouldn’t have to do this,” I muttered. “Demetrius, come here,” I motioned for him to hurry. He proceeded, and then I demanded, “Let me see you hand.”

With a frown he let me take hold of his arm. I flipped over his arm and looked at the chalky pale skin, staring at the blue vein underneath the flesh. Biting my tongue, I revealed the letter opener.

“Lumex?” he asked startled.

I shushed him. He apparently wanted me to bite down on his arm, since he kept breaking my concentration. I pulled up my wrist so that our exposed arms were side by side. I pointed the letter opener’s tip to Demetrius’s wrist and then cut both our wrists in a straight line. In another swift movement I took out the archaic lunate and dripped Demetrius’s blood on it.

Archaic lunate?” Jeff asked. “This half-blood has some tricks up her sleeve, James. Again, props.”

I smiled. When the wounds closed, I took the book and opened it.

“Wait! No!” Demetrius stopped me. “You don’t want to do that,” he warned.

“I’ll do whatever the hell I feel like,” I said, then stuck my tongue out at him.

I flipped to the middle of the book where there seemed to be more information. It was the 16th century. One of the pages read:

May 9th, 1648

A stormy night is upon us. Black clouds hang in the dark night sky, blocking the moon that would have been a perfect round circle. The princess is fast asleep. I can hear her heartbeat and her steady breathing even from the other side of the palace. My chest is becoming heavy. I cannot sleep. The bloodlust is beginning. Though, that prince from Britain is here. Prince James. This powerful vampire prince—even one of the first vampires—is staying here near Princess Hravart. He is here to try and take her as his own. Not something that I want.

I stood up from the floor where my mattress lay, and slid open the doors of the servant’s cabinet. Blood. I need to find living blood. I searched around the palace for the scent of a mouse, but the lust became more overpowering as the time passed, clouding my senses as the animal side of my being began slowly taking over. Someone stopped me—

“It stops,” I noted, looking up from the archaic lunate.

“It—stops?” James asked startled. He seemed disorientated and his hair was ruffled probably from when he’d run his hand through his hair while I was reading. “Wait—that means he doesn’t remember something. What happened, Freeze?” he asked harshly.

“If I knew, don’t you think that it would be written down in that bloody thing?” Demetrius snapped back. I bit my lip to stop my laugh. I never thought Demetrius could act so….British. “All I remember, your majesty,”—James’s eyes narrowed like mine must whenever I’m called Melody—“are yellow-orange eyes and an order.”

“What did you do?” I asked, suddenly afraid of what the answer could be. I know that I have no clue what the order was, but the cold, unemotional way he said it, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The book shook in my trembling hands.

His voice softened alongside with his eyes. “I refused.” My lungs still wouldn’t work. The only thing that changed was that I wasn’t shaking anymore; I had frozen completely. “Because I wouldn’t kill you in a million years.”

James choked out an angry laugh and stood, placing a hand on my shoulder. He squeezed it reassuringly before speaking again. “Then what made you do as you did?” he challenged, all warmth from when he’d looked at me dissolving into hatred.

Demetrius’s jaw tensed, his fists clenched, and his eyes, which had gone back to their emerald green glory, were getting lighter, and more magnetic as the time passed. He took a step forward as if about to go into attack mode and then paused when he remembered that I was standing between the two.

“I’ve read yours and you are definitely no saint.”

“OKAY, SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU!” I finally screamed. James winced, probably since I was standing right in front of him. “I’M TIRED OF THIS! SO STOP ARGUING AND SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE!”

“Easy,” James said a little snobbishly. “Freeze killed you.

I froze. So it had been what I had imagined. That had been the order. But then, why did Demetrius lie to me? Why did he tell me that he didn’t follow through with the order when he actually completed it.

“I’m sorry, Lumex,” Demetrius apologized with an expression that tugged at my heart.

It shouldn’t bother me, but that wasn’t the regular apologetic expression of a human—or Moon Person. I remembered that illusion. That illusion of how James looked when I was lying in a coffin. That impossible feeling that only came out of true love. And I only believed for soul mates to have that expression for each other.

Until now I had only believed Demetrius to be a friend. That the only reason that he asked me out earlier was to offer some company so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely. So empty. But now, I realized that there was more to that. He really had feelings for me. And I had kept putting him down each time. His confession suddenly flashed in front of my eyes and I suppressed a flinch.

Though, what bothered me the most was that I was actually flattered. In my life I’ve always been surrounded by hormone crazed guys that desired me. Only that they wanted me as a person wants a possession. No love. But there was something with Demetrius. Now that I thought about it, there was even a little concern in the little piece of his history that I read.

For Isis’s sake, let it only be a temporary crush, I begged.

I bit my lip. I should be concerned about the whole murder thing, but it was pushed off to the side by the intensity of the guilt.

I should have noticed. I should have noticed since the first moment.

“Hold up,” I mumbled. The explanation hit me like cold water. “Orange eyes? You said that the only thing you remembered were orange eyes.” Demetrius nodded. “Is there a possibility that this person was a witch?”

Andrew was the one to answer. “Lumex, it doesn’t work that way. If you’re born a vampire or made, then there isn’t even the slimmest possibility that you could receive any other traits.”

“Yeah, but—”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the exception,” said Vivian. “Even though Black Moon is pretty much a scary fairy tale, that doesn’t mean that there’s magic all around. It doesn’t mean that there’s a possibility for everything.”

“Then what am I?”

“Well, you’re just different. I mean, really, how many people do you know that have been humans, lived forever, and now are suddenly a mixed race?”

“In other words, you’re weird,” Jeff shrugged.

“It’s a vampire, Lumex,” Demetrius finally responded. “I’m sure of that.” He ran a hand through his dark hair. Suddenly he turned to look at the door. “Oh, shit,” he cursed.

There was a knock. There was a lot of movement after that. James pulling me out of the way, Violet and Andrew taking fighting positions, Vivian and Scarlett were taking positions at the windows, and Max and Jeff had disappeared from sight. I was alert while the movement was going on, but when it stopped, I relaxed a bit.

“Why does she do this to me?” Demetrius mused, falling on a couch.

“DEMETRIUS, I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!” someone yelled from the other side of the door. It took me a minute to come to my senses. I blinked twice, taken aback. “DEMETRIUS OPEN THIS DOOR BEFORE I BREAK IT DOWN!”

“Lumex, did you invite someone else?” James asked me. “This isn’t a party, you know? Didn’t that session with Andrew teach you anything?”

“Shut up,” I said instinctively. I pushed my way through the three vampires who stood before me and stumbled towards the door.

“Lumex, you’ll regret that,” Demetrius warned.

“Freeze, who’s at the door?” James demanded.

“The devil herself,” he said dryly. “And her little monkey.”

I waved him off, forcing myself not to flip him off, and opened the door. When I opened the snakewood door, I saw the surprised faces of my cousins.

 

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