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Chapter 12 : Truthful
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A large familiar smile crept upon his face as he dropped the mint leaves on the forest floor. “Look who has finally woken up!”
Anaxandra’s eyes were wide and glazed over, still making sense of the entity that stood before her. He must be a ghost, she thought, but the lack of ghost-like qualities was enough to disprove her hypothesis. She concluded that he was nothing more than a mere memory, a trick her mind was playing on her. It took advantage of her vulnerable state and the memories began spilling out, fabricating images of her dead brother. She shook her head and whispered, “This isn’t real. You’re not real.”
The young man with short auburn hair held a confused look on his face, stood up, and began patting his hands over his body. “Are you sure? I mean, I feel real, and I am almost positive that bump on your head feels more than real.”
“Anders, I thought you were dead,” she said, standing up and lightly touching his shoulder. Her fingers did not pass through, but landed on his solid frame. He definitely was no ghost or illusion.
“You wound me, little sister. I would think that you would have more faith in my abilities.” He fake frowned, grabbing her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze that told Anaxandra that he had thought the same about her.
“How did you—"
“Escape?” he asked, dropping her hand and leaning against the tree she had hit her head on. Anaxandra nodded.
Anders’s sarcastic inclination faded to a much more mellow complexion. While no longer playful, he casually recollected the events of the night that forever changed their lives as if it were like any other day. “I was up late sharpening the knives when those ‘things’ attacked me. There were three of them, maybe? I didn’t even hear them sneak up on me. It was a challenge, but I managed to kill them. Then mum and dad found me, told me to grab Agnatha and run-“
“Agnatha is alive?” she asked in disbelief.
Anders nodded. “We ran, grabbed my broom and flew until morning. Used the last of my muggle money to get us some supplies, and for the past few weeks I’ve been putting those survival skills to good use, staying inconspicuous. We made a shelter at the heart of the forest where the trees are thickest.”
“You know wild bears haven’t been spotted in Britain for hundreds of years, right? You’re being anything but inconspicuous.”
“Shut up, know-it-all,” Anders grinned, giving her a playful shove. “Enough with the sad talk! We’ve gone weeks without seeing each other, and now we can breathe a bit easier. It’s good to see you, little sister.”
“It’s good to see you too, big brother.” Anaxandra smiled, giving her brother’s shoulder a tight squeeze.
“So where’s mum and dad?” he asked enthusiastically, looking around them as if they would be hiding behind a tree. “I’ve got to ask dad about what we’re going to do, if he knows what those things were…” He trailed off at the sight of his little sister’s solemn face. Her gaze was cast downward, and arms held tight across her chest. It was no wonder he spoke so nonchalantly. Anaxandra had completely forgotten that Anders didn’t know about twist of fate their parents met that night.
“Ana, where are they?” he asked again, his eyes settling on her.
Her gaze was cast downward, and her words had become stuck in her throat. The air around them seemed a bit more tense than normal and it was as if it was getting harder to breathe. Anaxandra said nothing as she silently prayed that her brother would stop asking questions so that they could continue their happy reunion.
“Ana,” he said sternly, trying desperately to look into her eyes. She wouldn’t look up.
“They’re gone, Anders.”
“Dead.” The word left a taste of finality on her tongue that Anaxandra hated.
“What are you playing at, Ana?” Anders’s confused blue eyes seemed to pierce her heart, and the slowing of her heart commenced. “Dad said he’d find you; that he’d get out of the house with you and mum. You were with him-“
“He fought them off to give us time to run.”
“So where’s mum?” he angrily asked, almost anticipating her grim answer.
“She ran back.” Anaxandra found her throat feeling as if it was going to tighten until her airways shut.
“And you didn’t.” Anders did not move. His face remained unchanging, and his stance remained upright and solid. While his exterior remained as stone, fury was rising behind his eyes. Anders was always light-hearted, and always held some sort of carefree air about him, but Anaxandra could tell from his stoic expression and the tenseness of the air that she had done it. She had ripped his heart out.
A moment passed; his fists clenched, and his jaw visibly tightened. “You know,” he sourly laughed, “Dad always saved your arse. I thought you had grown out of the habit of mucking things up, but I suppose I was wrong.”
“Dad always gave me a hard time, and you know it! You were the golden child, you could do no wrong but I got chewed out daily while he showered you with praises!” Anaxandra raised her voice, just barely approaching a yell. She remembered the constant eye-rolls and the numerous frustrated rants supplied by her father during her training.
Anders raised his own voice to overcome hers and said, “You were with him, Ana! Why did you not stay and fight?”
“He told me to run, just like he told you!”
“Now you’re pointing the finger at me. We aren’t children anymore! I had to get our baby sister to safety as quickly as possible! What was your excuse?”
“H-He…” Anaxandra began stuttering, and her emotional armor began to crumble.
“You have none,” Anders’s voice lowered to a menacing growl, just above a whisper, and by this time he didn’t even have the stomach to look Anaxandra in the eye. He faced the lake, keeping her to his back. She stood, silent as a mouse and frail as thin glass. She watched as he began pacing, never letting his eyes meet hers.
“I tried, but…” she trailed off, the right words never coming to mind because there were none. He was right.
“But what, Ana?” Anders snarled, walking up to her and finally staring at her with such an intense gaze that it practically burned her eyes to keep looking at him. “What were you going to say? You tried but you failed? I think that’s pretty obvious, little sister. Why do you think he never wanted you on any of our missions? Do you ever wonder why he always scolded you? You’re rubbish, Ana! You only ever achieved one animal form and never surpassed mediocre technique. You were never Hunter material. I told him that from the start, but for some reason he kept training you anyways.”
“I am just as good of a Hunter as you are! I’ve worked a million times harder than you ever have!” Anaxandra stood on her tiptoes to be eye level with him, trying to match his ferocity. She would not have him undermine her years of hard work. She was exceptional at what she did and under her circumstances, most would have thought it impossible.
“That’s just it! Real Hunters’ abilities develop naturally over time, only ever training to sharpen them, not teach. Fighting, shape-shifting, surviving—all of it should be second nature to you, not something you learn from a book. You weren’t born with it like dad and I were. You showed a hint, a sliver at best, of talent and all of a sudden you think you’re entitled to my utmost respect as a Hunter, but you aren’t. You just researched and practiced until you were barely average, but you never exceeded that, did you?” Anders had finally backed off from Anaxandra, breathing heavily out of anger. “Now look where your mediocrity has landed our parents. Dead.”
Tears were welling in Anaxandra’s eyes as the guilt and humiliation were eating away at her. She watched as he took a few more steps back and stretched. “Agnatha’s waiting for me to bring back lunch. We’ll stay in the forest in the meantime. You come find us when you’re ready to contribute to the family again. It shouldn’t be too hard to find us, seeing as you’re such a hard-working Hunter.”
Anders walked into the thick of the trees, never looking back at his ashamed sister, who had also turned and started back towards her holding house. Although his words had cut her deeply, it hurt Anaxandra even more to feel the warmth of his presence leave her. She was reliving the feeling of losing her family all over again, and she wondered if it would have been better to remain ignorant to his existence.
“Have a nice outing?” Harry asked as Anaxandra walked through the front door of the house with a thoughtful expression on her face. He seemed to have moved his workstation from the dining table to the couch and coffee table.
“Yeah, lovely weather,” she replied, giving him a small smile. “I’ll just be up in my room if you need me.” She didn’t know what he would need her for, but she thought she would play the part of ‘thankful victim’ and extend that invitation to him. Harry just nodded and went back to his paperwork.
The only thing Anaxandra could do was pace. She was too anxious to just lie down or sit. Something was stirring inside of her. As hurtful as her brother had been to her, he was alive. Her older brother and little sister were both alive. There was someone she could undoubtedly trust with her life no more than a few miles away from her right now. Looking around the room, she realized that she no longer belonged. She didn’t belong in this room, in this house, or even in this situation. She belonged far away from here, outside, with her siblings. They were her blood.
Anaxandra stretched, feeling the lengthening of her limbs and the looseness of her joints, before she fell into a push-up position.
“One, two…” She counted as she lowered herself to the floor and rose up again, her voice trembling. Her body was becoming warm, and she could feel how weak she had become by the violent shaking of her arms. She would have to train hard for the next couple weeks to be able to keep up with Anders.
All that he saw before him was darkness. The uneven stone was harassing the bottoms of his feet through his shoes, and the heavy mist in the air was adding to his already sweat-drenched skin. Nothing lit the area around him but the light from the gibbous moon shining from an overhead opening. It illuminated nothing but him, plump and defenseless. He could hear low grumbles, snarls, and hisses all around him with the jangling of chains.
“You poor, pathetic, little man,” a silky, female voice slithered from the darkness, exciting the creatures that clung to the walls. “You had one task, and one task alone: give me the girl.”
The round man, clad in nothing but his silk pyjamas and bathrobe, swallowed hard.
“You went against me,” the tone of the voice became a little more rigid, sending chills up his spine. “Did you not think I would find out? Surely you cannot expect me to fulfill my end of the bargain now.”
“Don’t touch my family!” he commanded.
“You dare raise your voice to me?” the voice boomed, sending vibrations throughout the stone room. He flinched. The creatures were becoming anxious. He could hear their claws scraping against the rocky walls.
“I gave you the girl! I did everything that you asked! She ran, and I have no idea where she is, but please, not my family!” He fell to his knees and began begging.
“Perhaps you are right. You did do as I asked, and for that I should be grateful. I will spare your family.”
Wanting to retain some sort of dignity, he held his head high and nodded in approval.
“But that does not change the fact that I still don’t have the Synder girl, and for that you will take your family’s place. Filioli,” the sultry voice called to her minions.
Before his lips even quivered in the slightest to utter his protest, deafening howls and shrill screams filled the air. His hands flew to his ears to shield them from the abrasive noise. He could feel sensations running up and down his legs, the cold slick skin of the creatures could be felt through the thin material that was his pyjama bottoms.
A/N: Alright ladies and gents! I am back! I know, it's been a while, but I had real life problems and blah blah blah. All that latin, huh? I'm going to be honest, I used a translating site, so it's probably not all that accurate, but I did my best lol. So, what did you think? Leave me your opinions in the review box!
Filioli - Children
Epulor - Feast
I'd also like to thank my beta, HeyMrsPotter, from the bottom of my heart. She's such a rockstar, even after I kind of weaseled her into being my permanent beta after only asking for a quick beta :) Honestly, she's amazing, and you should definitely go check out her page!
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