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Fate Interrupted: Ch. Three
Craning her neck, she looked up. Breath caught in her throat when she reached Victor’s gaze. Those eyes, so intense, impossibly blue. This close, she spotted what appeared to be flecks of silver in the irises.
“You uh, you left without getting your chemistry stuff from the office.” Victor held out a bundle of folded pages.
“Oh, thanks.” For a minute, she thought he might have been following her. Vala kept her movements careful and deliberate, taking extra care not to touch his fingers as she accepted the photocopied pages.
Victor had other plans thought. His other hand came up as he attempted to grab her by the wrist. She stumbled back, falling to the sidewalk and immediately covered her exposed flesh.
“Don’t touch me!”
Scowling, he swore under his breath. “Are you like this with everyone? Or is it just me?”
Ah, I see what he’s trying to do. She couldn’t blame him. Victor must have assumed she made an extra effort to keep away from him, but he hadn’t seen her near-miss with Deanna in chemistry class after he stormed from the room.
“I just … I don’t like people touching me,” she lied.
One cinnamon brow arced. “You let that guy touch you in the office.”
She pushed to her feet, nodding. “He’s my brother, it’s different.” Better that he thinks we’re dating my backside. No way she’d let Marius have that one.
In a flash, his features softened. He blinked once, slowly. Relief expelled from his lungs in the form of a sigh. “Oh. Okay, sorry.”
That lopsided grin crinkled the corners of one of his eyes. “Vic.”
Jesus, she actually knows my name! his mind cried out.
She could swear her heart just began pounding loud enough for her to perceive. Or maybe it was his pulse she heard.
“Vic.” His cheeks reddened, ever so slightly, through his tan as she repeated his shortened name. “Whatever you’re thinking about me, it’s not true. I’m not a good person to be around and I’m not a good friend. This, right here?” She waved her hands between them. “Nothing can ever come of this.”
His head moved to one side, mouth pressed in a firm line. “Did something happen in your past? Did someone …” Victor swallowed. “Did someone hurt you?”
Damn, it was like the guy slipped into her mind and saw everything. Her eyes crashed shut while the memory of that day played in her head. Again.
He swore again, this time much louder. “Okay. I won’t push you, Vala. But don’t write off friendship because of some jackass.”
Victor lifted his hands to within an inch of her face but didn’t touch her. The heat from his flesh drifted to her jaw, the warm tendrils licking her skin like flames. How desperately she wanted to lean closer, to feel his open palms caressing her.
“Just … let me try.”
Her eyes flew up to meet his. “No, you can’t.” Vala backed away, shoving the papers he’d given her into her bag. “Don’t follow me, Victor. I’m serious.”
With a simple nod of his head, he acknowledged her request and followed it. Victor stayed where he was and she turned and ran. Vala didn’t stop running until she’d reached crossed the threshold and leaned on the inside of the front door.
Close call. Too close.
“Damn right.” Marius appeared in front of her, thick arms folded across his bare chest. “I told you he was going to cause trouble, Vala. You need to do better.”
“You were spying on me?”
His head bobbed once. “It’s a good thing I did. He almost touched you.”
Fury surged through her body until she felt hotter than the sun itself. Smoke billowed around her as her clothing burnt to scraps. If another Valkyrie existed that she could trust with this role, Vala would fly away now and never look back.
Shaking her head, she pushed past him and went to her room. The shower helped. Cool water poured over her searing flesh in sluices, putting out the fires that burned inside her. Part of being dead and alive at the same time.
“We need to talk about this, Vala.”
“Get out of my head, Marius.” Vala left the shower, wrapped in a thick towel, her hair dripping wet and hanging down to her waist. While ringing it out, she sent one final thought to the reaper. “Don’t you have some work to do?”
Only when she felt him leave her head did Vala flop down into her desk chair and conjure up an image of the guy dressed in black who made her non-existent pulse race.
Her first week of high school passed without much issue. Once or twice Vala had been questioned by a teacher while she peered into the minds of those around her. Fortunately this same ability also assisted her to find out what she had missed and what the teacher expected from her.
Unfortunately, she shared every class with Victor and sat very close to him in all of them except gym. Then he kept his distance. There was a damned puzzle.
Early on Saturday morning, she decided to get out of the house for a little while. Vala would have slept in – if she required sleep – or at least lounged around until she had to begin her homework but the sun hadn’t yet risen and it was a perfect time to do something she’d held back for three weeks now.
The itch under her skin grew stronger with each passing minute until it felt like her back was on fire. She could wait no longer.
Leaving a note for Marius, she changed into some form-fitting running gear and left their small home through the back door. Once she reached the trees, Vala took off in a sprint, though her movements were far too swift for a human to detect. She pushed her body to its limits, running faster, higher up the side of a mountain.
Feet pounding on the rocky terrain, pine needles whipping over her bare flesh … cheeks, wrists and hands, ankles. It felt good to be herself again.
As good as it felt to run, she needed the wind. And that need was fast reaching desperate levels. Not even the icy winds and thick snow atop Sirdar Mountain could bring her down.
Up ahead she spotted the mountain’s peak, the perfect spot to take off from. Vala prepared her body for the change, the very building blocks of her genetic make-up rewritten as she moved.
She pushed off with her feet at the top, propelling her body through the air. With her hands reaching for her shoulder blades, wrists crossed, the pulled the two crescent shaped zippers and focused her energy on unfurling her wings. The moment they caught wind, she began soaring.
In the darkness of early dusk, Vala flew through the national park. Hurtling over mountains and swooping down the valleys. Euphoria hit her instantly and for a few minutes, she truly felt alive again. Adrenalin pumped through her long dead veins, giving her the sensation of blood and a heartbeat.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Marius’ voice sounded in her head. “I thought we talked about you flying in public.”
Her sigh caused the tops of the trees to bend under the weight of her breath. “I had to. And, it’s still quite dark out. No one can see me. I’m keeping to the shadows, tops of trees … I know the drill, Sarg. No one’s going to see me, okay?”
For a few minutes, nothing but glorious silence filled her mind. Vala always felt so free when she flew. It almost reminded her of sailing on her mother’s long-ship, speeding over the open waters of the ocean. Then the impulse to dip into the lake to her right grew too strong to ignore so she veered in that direction and slipped into the chilly water, a dive that would have impressed the stodgiest of Olympic judges.
“Fine. But get back home soon,” Marius finally replied. “We cannot risk you being caught.”
The first rays of light spread over the valley when she emerged at the edge of the lake. Vala was about to use her wings to dry herself off when she heard a rustling sound. More swiftly than she’d ever done so before, Vala tucked her wings away and reached back to pull up the zippers.
A tall, willowy figure slipped out of the forest. She brushed her incredibly lengthy hair – changing to whatever colours were close to her at that moment, such as waves of emerald from the trees and deep earthy brown from the soil beneath her feet – away from her face and gently touched two fingers to her brow while she smiled.
Relief eased the tension from her shoulders. “Verðandi,” she greeted the Fate, bowing low.
“Valkyrie Svala. You have questions regarding your current duty?”
“I do.” She was never certain when or even if the Fates would respond to a request so it shocked her that one of them had come all the way here simply to communicate with her.
“Please, speak your mind.”
“Why can you not simply tell us who the murderer is and why, and then tell us where to find him?”
Verðandi’s musical laughter flitted through the breeze, reminiscent of wind chimes. “The tapestries of life are not as black and white as one might believe.” The floor-length white gown parted to reveal a slender and pale thigh, perfectly formed, as the Fate began to walk.
“So you don’t know who it is?” Since it was just the two of them, Vala released her wings so they could dry.
“So impatient, my little bird.” Verðandi took hold of Vala’s chin. “Your mother chose very wisely to name you after the Norse swallow.”
She continued onwards, dropping her hand back down to her side. “You are aware of the tapestry, and of the three Fates who weave it.”
Vala nodded. Urðr was the Fate of that which became or already happened. Verðandi, that which is happening now. And Skuld, the Fate of that which should become or could happen.
She knew that the three Fates knew everything that each human on Earth did at any given moment, but should they change their mind and choose a path different to the one already spun for them, they changed the outcome of that situation.
For this reason alone, Skuld was blind and considered senile. Her ramblings often seemed nothing but the insane chatter of one gone completely mad, but buried within her words were prophecies. The other two Fates took everything that Skuld said as absolute word and truth, taking care to weave her threads for her.
But there were those who believed Skuld to have succumbed to the pressures of her station and that she needed to be replaced. Vala met Skuld only once when the Fate told her of her destiny. That was the day she had been granted Valkyrie status but the actual words the Fate spoke to her were removed.
Urðr had argued that the new Valkyrie might think herself mightier and more important than the Fates themselves and attempt to mount some kind of rebellion. Granted, Vala may be a gifted and skilled warrior but to destroy everything she believed in was unthinkable. She’d never do anything so terrible.
With no warning whatsoever, Verðandi came to a halt, her hands placed out and facing up as if pleading. “Svala Lathgerthasdottir, we cannot tell you what we do not know. It embarrasses us to admit that, for whatever reason, we cannot see the rogue responsible for these atrocities against your kind and our attempts to discover the culprit have proven far too time consuming when one bears in mind the lack of results we unearth.
“You, perhaps more than any other, must recognize how fair and just we try to be when granting those who do your work with the abilities that make their job easier. Which means they must have some kind of power, some ability that was granted to them by the Gods themselves. Or, the more plausible answer, they have stolen it.”
The admission slammed into her hard enough to disrupt the practiced breathing she’d gotten so used to doing and Vala nearly choked on a mouthful of air. No longer able to remain still, Vala took to pacing. “How…how does something like this happen?”
The Fate raised her shoulders slightly. She opened her mouth to speak and paused. Her entire body froze.
Seconds ticked by, nothing happened.
In the blink of an eye, Vala stood back on the main level of the small house she and Marius were living in during their stay here in Jasper.
“Someone saw you.” The reaper leaned against the wall in the shadows, arms folded over his chest. “I told you not to fly, Svala! I gave you a direct order when we arrived here!”
“Now is not the time to place blame, Marius Alcatius.” Verðandi touched his arm.
“Place blame?” he hissed. “This boy must die now and the blame rests solely on her shoulders.”
At this news, she stumbled back into the nearest surface. Vala swore she would never put another person in this situation and now…his words destroyed her last shred of resolve. For the first time in over one thousand years, a sluice of hot, stinging tears fell down her face.
© 2013 Ellie Carstens. No part of this work can be used without the consent of the author.