This is an original story (well, it’s less a story more a scene) The Devereaux family is attending a fundraiser organised by the Guild after the events of Book 6, Archangel’s Legion. It is told from Gwendolyn’s perspective. It is held in honour of those who fell in the battle against Lijuan and Charisemnon.
Gwendolyn, Jeffery and the girls were attending a fundraiser for the Guild. Though, in the past, Jeffery wouldn’t be caught dead near anything associated with the Guild, things had changed. He still hated it but considering that at present both his daughters were enrolled at the Academy, he couldn’t afford to be quite that rigid.
The ballroom was full of hunters and their families, although, one could almost say that they behaved like they were one big family. They clearly seemed to know one another and there was an ease in the room, she couldn’t say how she knew, except that she could sense it. It was in the faces of these people with their easy smiles and carefree laughter. It was especially jarring in the face of the recent attack against New York but there was also a sense of celebration in the room. Many of the people assembled here had fought for their freedom, fought alongside the angels and vampires, she knew also, that many had died in the battle. This seemed like the hunters’ way of paying their respects to those who had fallen. It shamed her to realise that these were the people that her family and those like them had spoken of with much disdain and derision.
She looked across the room and saw Elena standing with a short beautiful woman. Both were dressed in gowns and with her striking wings, Elena was hard to miss in any room. It was not hard to recognise the other woman as Sara Haziz, the Guild Director. But that’s not what caught her attention; Elena had a little girl in her arms and the girl was clearly at-ease with her, love and affection for her clear on Elena’s face. Gwendolyn saw Elena throw girl up into the air to her delight and then caught the squealing girl.
She looked away from them and studied her own family, except Eve and to a very limited extent Amy, they were not comfortable in this room. She saw Eve survey the room and knew the moment she spotted Elena. The two of them had become quite close ever since she started attending the Academy. She also knew that with Jeffery present, Elena would not join them and Eve clearly wanted to meet her but would not since she knew that her father disapproved.
She looked at Eve, “Why don’t you go say hi to Elena, I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”
Jeffery stiffened next to her. Eve looked at her mother but her eyes flicked to her father, when he didn’t say anything; she walked across to Elena dragging a very unwilling Amy with her. Amy had yet to warm up to Elena, probably because she sensed the tension at home more acutely than Eve, who was very much the baby of the family.
Gwendolyn and Jeffery moved to a table reserved for them, not speaking. They were both observing those around them, lost in thought. She could see Eve talking animatedly with Elena, the little girl now snuggled on her mother’s shoulder, while one of their teachers spoke to Amy. Gwendolyn could see that while Eve was clearly getting attached to Elena, Amy still wasn’t entirely comfortable around her.
Gwendolyn wondered about what her daughters’ life would be like had Elena been a part of their family. If there wasn’t always an undercurrent of tension, looming over them.
“Do you realise that both Amy and Eve lost something very important when you cast out Elena?” She couldn’t help but ask Jeffery.
He continued to look straight ahead till Gwendolyn thought he wouldn’t answer her, but he turned to her, “That is irrelevant. Elena disobeyed me and ran the family’s name through the mud. Had she stayed with us, it would have rubbed off on Amy and Eve as well.”
“And yet Eve is hunter-born and now she needs Elena. If your plan was to keep them apart then it seems to have backfired. Don’t you care about her?”
“Don’t talk about things you know nothing of, Gwendolyn. My relationship with Elena is not your concern.” He snapped.
“It is if it impacts her relationship with Eve. What if you push her too far one day and she decides to cut us off.”
“Rest assured Gwendolyn, she would never do that to Eve.”
Suddenly she didn’t want to have this conversation with Jeffery, she didn’t even know why she brought it up. It was always exhausting. She could see Amy glance in their direction and gave her a reassuring smile, but she didn’t think it fooled her. Amy always saw too much and didn’t talk about it. She worried about her.
Soon both the girls walked back to their table, Eve pausing to speak to one of her instructors. When they were all seated, Gwendolyn asked Eve, “Did you and Elena have a nice chat?”
Eve’s face lit up, “We did. I told her about my classes and how I’m doing, she was proud…” She trailed off catching Jeffery’s expression.
Silent again, they waited for their food to arrive. Meanwhile, she saw Elena sitting and talking with a group of hunters. They looked so comfortable around each other, like a family. The contrast was so stark between them that it hurt Gwendolyn to see it. Looking at the other table, she couldn’t help but mourn what her daughters had lost. She couldn’t wait for this night to get over; staying in this room somehow, seemed to highlight her feeling of loss.
They were almost finished eating when Sara, the Director of the Guild, suddenly approached them.
“I hope I’m not bothering you but I just wanted to let you know how well the girls are doing in all their classes. They are really quite exceptional.”
She said the last with an affectionate glance towards Eve, who beamed back. Gwendolyn noticed that though she didn’t address either of them, the words were directed towards Gwendolyn. There was nothing overtly hostile in Sara’s demeanour but Gwendolyn could sense that Sara didn’t like Jeffery very much. There was a certain hardness in her eyes when she regarded Jeffery; no doubt she knew what had happened between him and Elena.
“I am very pleased to hear that. I was a little worried about whether they were adjusting well or not.” Gwendolyn said, before Jeffery could say something rude. She was hoping that Sara didn’t say anything to Jeffery that might set him off. She was relieved when Sara looked back at her.
“Rest assured, you have nothing to worry about. They are both exceptional students. It was wonderful to meet you again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I better find my daughter”
With that, giving both the girls and Gwendolyn a warm smile, she turned and walked away. Once she was out if earshot, Gwendolyn breathed a sigh of relief; Jeffery seemed to be behaving himself, at least for now. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Eve stiffen slightly and turn around in her chair.
“What’s wrong Eve, are you all right?”
“I think there are vampires here. Elena said there might be but that they are friends. I can sense them in the room.”
“You couldn’t before?”
“I could Mama, but it was muted, not very clear. It feels a little clearer now.”
Before Gwendolyn could say more, Jeffery snapped, “Enough with the questions Gwendolyn! I will not have you speak of this in front of me, if you insist on dragging our name through the mud, that is your decision but we are not having this conversation. We’re going home now.”
With that, he got up, waiting for them to join him. Gwendolyn wished she was strong enough to defy him, to stay here. But she wasn’t, not yet. She looked at Eve’s crestfallen face and Amy’s, though it was closed off. And she felt like she had failed them somehow. She was supposed to protect them and she couldn’t. She shouldn’t have to protect them from their own father.
As they started to follow Jeffery out of the room, she saw Elena looking at them. Her expression was a mixture of grief and anger. She knew what had happened. Gwendolyn suddenly knew if she wanted to make sure that her daughters were happy, she would have to stand up to Jeffery or risk losing her daughters, the way Jeffery had lost Elena.