The Other Shoe | iii

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She had lost so much already. Why did she keep opening up herself only to face more loss? Why did each hurt more than the last? Why did she keep getting so involved? This time was supposed to be different. She was supposed to have her happy ending. At preternatural speed, she moved up and away from Fionn. The moonlight spilled over her skin leaving it in a soft glow. It was his time to watch her pace. She blurred to him.

"What can we do?" Nerina was determined she would have her happy ending no matter what she had to do to get it.

Fionn shook his head. "Your sire hunted you for centuries. They have been hunting me for millenniums. They will not give up."

"You are their King. Make them."

"If I could don't you think I would have done so long before now? Long before I met you to put you in this position?"

"Why do they need you? One of them could be King. Or queen. Or both." Nerina was grasping at every flimsy straw she could find.

"I give them balance." Fionn's sigh was deep. "And with balance, there is more power."

"Power? That is what they want?"

"Power is what all of us wants." He stood. "Power is what you want."

"I do not want power."

"You want control. With control, you feel powerful. With control, you have the power to determine your own fate."

"Do you want power?" Barely audible she asked him. What she wanted to ask was if he really wanted to leave. If power was more important to him than his love for her. Her love for him. He framed her face with his hands.

"Yes, but not in the way you may think. Power is different for all of us. Some of us want dominion over others and some like you and me want dominion over our own lives." Fionn shook his head. "If I could give up my magic to become mortal I would."

"I wouldn't let you." It was the unselfish truth.

"Then you could turn me into a vampire."

Nerina moved back from that as if he had slapped her with his words. "I would never." The words came out in utter shock that he would even suggest something so foul. That he would even think she would consent. That she would turn him and damn him to the life she was damned to live. He was the purest thing in her life and he would choose to become a monster.

"I may not be able to read your mind but I can read your aura."

"I would never turn you into a—" It took a while for the word to come out. "Vampire."

"Not even so we could be together?"

Nerina opened her mouth for a quick retort. The words of denial were stuck in her throat as the thought of living without him tightened her chest. Could she change him? Would she change him? What would happen if she did?

"There is also another way," he started. "If I could give up my immortality I could make us human. We could live out our lives even have a family. We could have everything."

"W-what?" She was unable to process what he was saying.

"Wouldn't you want that?" he asked puzzled by her response.

"You said you could make us human."

"I can change what you are but I cannot change what I am," he said looking down at his hands.

"Could you change me back now?"

Fionn looked up at her frowning. "It would be a most painful process."

"But you could," Nerina rushed in.

"Yes."

She walked away from him to gather her thoughts as the possibility took form and root in her mind before she could brush it aside. Fionn's brow creased as he watched her pacing. He could see the colors of her aura changing. Happiness. "If I change you back now you will be mortal." Fionn made the statement as if she did not know what she was asking. He refused to believe that she would want to be made mortal in light of the fact that he could not change himself as well.

"Yes, I'd be human again." She stood there looking down at her hands as she turned them this way and that in the moonlight.

Her answer stabbed him in the heart. "And I would be immortal." Running his hands through his hair, he turned away from her.

It was not until that moment that Nerina realized what she had said. So caught up was she in the thought of being human again, that it was even possible, she had lost sight of one thing...him. What it would mean for him if she were mortal. He could never be mortal. What he had said was an ideal scenario but the truth was not. There was no escape from immortality for him. But at her first opportunity she had taken the escape for herself leaving him behind.

"Fionn." What had she done?

"If you wish to be mortal I will make it so." Fionn's voice did not betray the turmoil brewing within him. He had felt the stab of her abandonment in the deepest part of his soul.

"No, no." Nerina hugged him from behind crushing herself into his back. "No. We will find another way." She would find another way.

Fionn felt the wet of her tears on his back. Gently he unlocked her hands from around him so he could face her. Red streaks stained her cheeks. "If you want to be human again—" His own feelings aside he understood.

"No." She shook her head adamantly. "No. I will stay this way for you. For you, I would remain a vampire." It was the truth. Her soul be damned it was the truth.

They clung to each other, two lost halves reaching for each other to be complete.


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