The Guild – Chapter 63 – Caroline

    I hear his door click shut and I listen carefully to his footsteps retreating down the hall. I wait five minutes, just to be safe, then I slip out into the hall and slide silently into Andrei’s room.

    The space is spotless, as it was the last time I saw him here, cleaning up. I’m not exactly sure yet what it is I’m searching for, but I’m hoping sleuthing around will help me figure out something to the nature of Andrei’s strange behaviour.

    There’s nothing of his personal artifacts in the living room so I quickly sneak into his bedroom. The bed is unmade, clothes strewn across the floor. There’s a slight odour, but it’s overpowered by the scent of – is that rose perfume? Why would he have perfume?

    I frown at the next thought that comes to my mind, turning my attention to his desk. The surface is littered with loose papers and pens. A journal lays open on top, scribbles from recent events written in. His writing is messy, I can barely make out what he’s logged, but recent events won’t help me much. I try to decipher it anyway.

    What I read confirms my suspicions at least. Andrei’s become obsessed with Samantha. He journals about their conversations and his feelings, but that’s not the only thing I find. According to his notes, he claims to frequently forget things, and as I continue to read I notice a pattern. The missing memories all have to do with Kaitlyn.

    He claims to lose track of his thoughts and finds himself frequently confused or lost when Sam is not around. Most often when he is alone. I even read about his frequent, spontaneous bouts of crying.

    I hold my hand to my throat, feeling a straining as I read. This is awful. I was worried and angry, but this is worse than I could have imagined. Sam has definitely done something to him and he is lost and confused. He needs Katlyn. We all do. But to find her, we need Andrei to come back first.

    I rifle through the papers on his desk, looking for anything that might help him with his bouts of memory blocks. I scan the bookshelf and the journals he has, lined up in order of consecutive dates. I read through, running my finger along their spines. I stop at the 1700’s. It was Andrei’s favourite jump, according to all his rantings. I’m curious what he has to say about it.

    I flip through the pages, skimming his notes about France. So he wasn’t lying. He really did train with the Musketeers. I pout my lips, wishing it had just been him gloating about being a time mage. I know better now than to assume otherwise.

    Suddenly, the entries jump and upon closer inspection, I see that a cluster of pages have been carefully removed. It’s hard to distinguish how. I would suspect some sort of knife as the edge is so clean and close to the spine, I nearly missed them altogether. My days as a scholar though, have given me a trained eye and I could tell the tone of the notes were missing something. I rub the inner spine, wondering what is missing.

    I replace the book and continue to scan the journals. The dates go as far back as Camelot. Is that as far back as he’s ever jumped? Magically I wonder how far is possible, but he’s probably not even reached his capacity since he hasn’t yet become a Guardian.

    Wait… that’s it, Camelot! He spent nearly two weeks there, with Kaitlyn! He’d most definitely have written tons of personal things about Kaitlyn there. It’s my best shot.

    I pull the journal off the shelf, it’s aged leather reminding me of some of the oldest books in the library at the school, the ones you could look at but not touch. Was this journal from Camelot, I wonder? I skim through his notes and see many mentions of embarrassing details that I’m sure he’d hate to know I’m reading.

    I blush at his mention of making love in the tub by the fire. “Oh boy…” I say aloud, to my surprise. I close the journal and make my way out of the room. Time to fix things.

~*~

    My fear is that when I find him, he’ll be with Samantha, and I find that I am not comfortable approaching him about this with her around. I hope with all my heart that she is busy elsewhere as I tread with determination towards the library, where I figure he’s researching.

    My heart sinks when I don’t find him there. Where could he be? I doubt in the Cafeteria but I check anyway. When I don’t find him there, I decide to check the training rooms.

    After running around the entire castle of the Guild, I pant past one of the training halls and stop when I see him working through some exercises with his blade. I admit I’m nervous now. If I speak to him while he’s holding that blade, and get angry, what might happen? I suck in my breath with resolve. If I have to, I’ll resort to using my water on him to prevent any injuries. I have to be strong.

    I head in. He doesn’t notice me right away. His focus solely on his stances and arm movements. I nod my head, watching his expertise and find myself impressed. I guess Kaede was right, I could trust him with my life. I hope he will trust me with his after this.

    “Andrei,” I call to him. “Can we talk?”

    His hair, long enough he had to tie it back with a tie, swings back and forth as he switches stances, not hearing me.

    “Andrei,” I call a little louder. Nothing.

    I hold my hand out, summoning a small ball of water I feel a calmness come over me and I cool it enough to turn it to a harmless ball of slush and then I launch it at him.

    “Hey! What was that fo-” he shouts, stopping when he turns around and sees me standing there, hands on my hips. His hand rubs the back of his neck, shirt soaked through with sweat and a cold slush.

    “I said, I need to talk to you,” I say, a little harder than I wanted to. I drop my arms, holding the book to my chest.

    I watch him as his brows crease, eyes fixed on the book. “Where’d you get that?” he asks, recognizing it.

    “I went into your room without asking. Andrei. I’m worried about you,” I begin,

    “That doesn’t give you any right to go into my room and read through my stuff,” he says, stomping across the room to me.

    “I had to Andrei. You are not yourself. So I came to prove it.” I hold out the book, thumb pushing the pages open to a page where he writes extensively about a love session with Kaitlyn. “You wrote this. When you went to Camelot. With Kaitlyn,” I say stately.

    “I know you’ve been forgetting things, so I want you to read this,” I push the book towards him.

    He glares hard at me, shrinking the sword and snatching the book from my hands. I fear he will just close it and toss it, his expression hard and annoyed, but instead, he bends his neck and begins to read.

    The seconds seem to drag by with agonizing slowness as I watch his eyes slide over the words he wrote only a month ago. He seems engrossed with the notes, flipping the pages, reading more than I expected him too. His eyes eat the words up hungrily.

    My lip trembles as I see tears running down his cheeks and into his growing beard. He sniffs, rubbing the back of his arm across his nose, but he doesn’t stop. Ten minutes go by when he finally puts the book down.

    “Caroline… did I really forget all this? Who is this amazing girl? Why can’t I recall this without reading it? Why do I cry when her memories come to me?” It hurts to look at him, eyes filled with water and face a picture of epiphanic sadness.

    “Oh, Andrei. I know it’s difficult. You’ve been through so much together, you and Kaitlyn. But you can’t let yourself forget her!” I say, extending my arms out to him.

    He hangs his head, letting me embrace him like a mother. I feel his chest heave a heavy breath and hiccup as he rests his forehead on my shoulder. Before I know it, my shoulder is wet with his tears. No matter, I can evaporate those later. I let him cry it out, standing there awkwardly in the empty training room.

    When we finally part, he tries to hide his red puffy eyes from me, but I pull his arm down and lock my gaze with his.

    “Andrei. It’s Sam. She’s done something to you. I know it. You have to remember. Try hard, with all your might. She’s using some sort of spell on you,” I encourage him.

    “It’s her perfume,” he mutters. He looks as shocked as I feel as he says those words.

    “Her perfume? How do you know?” I ask him.

    “I… I don’t know. It just sort of slipped out, before I could think about it,” he admits.

~*~

    I peek between the crack of the door I hide behind, watching down the hall at another. It’s before the crack of dawn, and Andrei stands behind me in the room we’re spying from.

    After finding out her love spell was coming from her perfume, I decided we needed to use it as leverage before we confronted her. So, I followed her to her rooms and told Andrei we needed to sneak in when she left to retrieve it. He seems anxious about sneaking into Samantha’s rooms. I can understand why, but that’s not going to stop me.

    Finally, as the sun filters through the empty room behind us, I see the door to her room swing open and she steps out. Her heels clack on the stone floor as she shuts the door behind her. I wave to Andrei, signaling that she’s leaving. We’ll wait a while longer before we head in, just to be sure.

    After twenty minutes pass, I slip out of the room, followed by Andrei.

    “So, we sneak in, find the perfume and sneak out. Don’t touch a thing,” I remind him as we sneak down the hall.

    “What if she’s set a spell or something to warn her that we’ve entered?” Valid concern.

    “I’ve prepared for that. I’ll check first. Then, maybe with your speed, you can find it fast,” he nods in agreement as she reaches her door. I close my eyes and stretch my awareness through the crack beneath the door, looking for spells. It takes me a few minutes to check, I need more practice on this.

    “There are no spells, but she’s locked the door.”

    “Great,” he huffs.

    “No worries. I got this,” I grin. I focus on my finger, forcing it to turn into a liquid form in the shape of my finger. I push it into the keyhole and command the molecules to slow, taking the shape of the lock. When it’s complete, I have a finger of ice and I twist it slowly, unlocking the door. Then I melt it and pull it out.

    “See, easy peasy. Now, go in and search.

    He zips past me into the room and all I see is a blur as he searches for the perfume bottle. I hear draws opening as I watch the hall for any sign of her return. It’s not long before he appears at my side, handing me the perfume bottle as he holds his nose with his other hand.

    “Great work. Let’s move,” I whisper, as we slip out. I lock the door and we dash off to our own rooms.

~*~

    Andrei wouldn’t leave me for the rest of the day. He followed me everywhere, worried that he’d run into Samantha and forget again. He still hadn’t regained all of his memories, but between bouts of crying and states of clear recollection, he was beginning to realize what she’d been doing to him.

    As we sit in the hall of water, well away from prying eyes and ears, he tells me about an incident he had in the crypt with her, about four days ago.

    “My memory’s still a bit foggy, so I’m sorry if the details are off…” he begins, sitting cross-legged, shoulders hunched in front of me.

    “No worries. You’re the only one who was there, so, I’m sure you’ll eventually remember,” I say.

    “I’m not so sure I want to,” he whispers.

    “You can trust me, Andrei. If it’s bad, I won’t tease you, for one, and I won’t tell Kaede. I promise,” I assure him.

    “Thanks, Car, you’re a good friend,” I try not to smile at the compliment. I try sometimes.

    “Well, I was down there, studying, looking through a book on some lead to another artifact when she came in. She seemed surprised to see me, I remember being both surprised and elated about that. Is that a wrong feeling?” he asks, unsure which of these would be his true feelings.

    “Surprised seems to be the real thing here. I’m sure you wouldn’t normally be elated to see your ex,” I say.

    “Right. Well, she asked me about a book on Void magic. I thought this a little strange, but I didn’t question it, knowing that the library would probably have what she wanted. She said she’d be downstairs,” he explains.

    “That’s odd,” I commentate.

    “Yea, I thought so too, but I wasn’t thinking straight. When she didn’t come back up after I found the book I decided to go down and show her. I vaguely recall seeing her standing before the founders Crypt, a strange purple outline came from the floor. It was some sort of pattern, but she noticed me and made it disappear. I think I can remember it.

    That’s when she seemed perturbed by my presence. She came onto me, passionately. I remember my emotions here being very confusing. She said strange things to me, like being in the mood and saying I shouldn’t have followed her,” he visibly shivers as he continues.

    “She… touched me, more than that,” his eyes stare at his feet, fingers twisting a loose thread on his jeans in anxious thought. I reach my hand out to him, gently patting his knee to encourage him. I won’t judge. “I think I remember her making love with me,” he blushes.

    “But I was plagued by this strange dream and I forget most of the details. I remember seeing both… Kaitlyn?” he says with uncertainty, “and Samantha. Then it turned strange and in my dream, we jumped. She kept saying ‘take me there,’ and grabbed a strange coloured time ribbon,’ he pauses. I raise my eyebrow.

    “Time ribbon?” I ask.

    “Yea, when I jump, time sort of appears like moments of ribbons, each representing a varying time period and event in history. There are thousands and thousands of time ribbons hanging around me when I jump, and I usually use my senses to pick out a time to go to, now that I can sort of control it,” he describes.

    “Wow, sounds confusing,” I say.

    “Yea, it can be. Usually, the time I want glows a reddish colour, but this time, the one she wanted was purple. I… I don’t really know what that means,” he confesses.

    “Well, don’t worry about that now. We can figure that out later.”

    “Right.”

    “So, then…”

    “I woke up down there, not sure why. I went up to bed and I slept in her room?” he clarifies. “At the end of the hall?”

    “Hmm, yes. That’s Kaitlyn’s room.”

    “I vaguely remember that now. It seemed familiar to me,” he says softly.

    “You often slept there. What? Don’t look at me like that!” I say as he looks up at me, eyes wide and accusing. “No one had to ask to know, Andrei. It was obvious you were sleeping there and perhaps doing other things. I’m not a doorknob.”

    “Sorry,” he mumbles, blushing.

    “It makes sense you’d want to go there and have a night without nightmares. Maybe, if you went there now, you’d start to remember more,” I suggest.

    “That sounds… painful,” he says gloomily. “I think I’d just end up crying again.”

    “Right…” I trail off, realizing. “But, maybe, if we went together, you could face that. You wouldn’t be alone,” I point out, hoping it is a helpful suggestion.

    “Perhaps, but, what do we do about Samantha and her perfume?” he asks.

    “I’m not exactly sure yet. But I promise I’ll look into it. Maybe Kaede will have an idea. I could ask him, without revealing any of the details,” I suggest.

    “I suppose…” he replies.

    “I swear, Andrei,” I say strongly, placing my hand on his knee again, for assurance. “I won’t leave you alone, not while she’s still prowling after you. I don’t know what she wants with you and why she’s back, like this and all, but I swear, I’ll be there for you. From now on.” I stare at him, a brave smile on my face.

    His expression says so many things I feel like I could cry for him and with happiness all at once.

    “Thanks, Car, that means a lot to me. Thank you.”

    Tears collect in his eyes, as a fresh wave of memories come back. He rocks there, head bent, covering his face and all I can do is watch, and wait for it to pass. It will pass. And soon, we’ll be able to see his cocky smile again. I hope. I dear god, I miss the smile.

By Kayla West

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