Fern didn’t remember how she got back up all those stairs and into the bed that had been given to her. Dimly, she was aware of Raphael stating how tried she must be and how she should rest. Putting her head on the pillow, her heavy eyes shut and she listened to the blood pumping through her.
The sweet taste of it still clung to her lips. She sucked absent-mindedly, feeling like a contented baby. Red colours spiralled before her and she thought she could fall forever downwards through them. Something at the back of her mind was tugging at her. A small voice telling her to stay awake and through everything, she thought she heard other voices.
The sleep was too heavy to fight off and she let go, disappearing into a maze of red. She was traveling, flying freely it felt like, over brown and green land. She passed dots of places and long snake roads. Then there was nothing but yellow and blue underneath her, the colours washed together like accidently mixed clothes. She thought she recognized the place spreading out below her. She drifted downwards and landed on a pier with the sea roaring around it.
Fern looked around and tried to remember where this memory had come from. The pier was empty, just a stretch of old wooden boards trying to survive the waves. She could see the beach, running like a ribbon on either side and above that a low rocky wall. Beyond that there seemed to be nothing.
She walked back along the pier, noticing how empty everything seemed and that the only sound was the ocean. The water was sloshing against the pier legs and rasping over the beach so loudly, that she convinced herself it was blocking all other sounds out. Fern got to the end and stopped at the wooden steps lending down and away.
She looked over the railing to her left and saw a shape coming out of the sand. She paused and watched the black figure coming towards her. Strangely, she knew there was no reason to be scared. She knew that person. Stepping off the pier, she went to meet him on the beach, feeling pulled like a kite on a string.
Fern came to a stop and took Dacian in. He looked just like the last time she’d seen him; tall, dark haired, worry etched onto his face. She ran to him and threw her arms around him. He held her as she broke down into tears. She felt him touch her cheeks and kiss her head. He smelt like the sea and the beach or maybe that just was the salty air?
I should tell him, Fern thought, but no words would come out of her mouth. She was left looking into his confused face and feeling the lingering touch of his fingers. Then the beach was tumbling away, a sandstorm whipping up around them and blowing them apart. Fern felt herself flung into the air, colours crazily flashing by.
Her eyes snapped open and her new room came sharply into focus. Sitting up slowly, she put a hand to the side of her head and looked around. She was alone, but in the distance where whispering voices and the sounds of the storm outside. Fern pulled the blanket away and slipped out of the bed. She crossed the bare floor and went to the door. Turning the handle, it opened.
She peered out then sidestepped to Ollie’s door and knocked gently on it. She listened to a soft growling sound and a book being set aside, before footsteps sounded. The door opened slightly then wider and Ollie stared at her.
‘I just had this weird dream,’ Fern whispered.
Ollie poked his head out and looked down the hallway to the stairs. He grabbed her hand and tugged her inside. Shutting the door again, he led her to his bed and they both sat down.
‘Keep your voice down,’ Ollie uttered, ‘everyone has good hearing here.’
‘I told you not to drink the blood. Having dreams and seeing things is a side effect of it.’
‘I couldn’t help it,’ Fern hissed back.
‘There’s something in it which is addictive. You mustn’t have any more or else…’
‘They’ll take over my mind?’
Fern frowned and looked at him. They were still holding hands.
‘When I first arrived there was another new vampire here. I thought…well, I don’t know, that he was crazy and his lust of blood was just part of that. He was wild, like some kind of caged beast,’ Ollie explained, ‘a few months later, he just vanished. I asked and asked, but no one would tell me anything.’
‘What do you think happened?’ Fern questioned.
‘They killed him. They couldn’t tame the vampire within him and the controlling blood was making him worse.’
‘We won’t end up like that,’ Fern put in.
‘Who knows what we’ll end up like! We have to get out of here. It’s just bad to the core,’ Ollie snapped, ‘on the surface they try to play happy families, but underneath they fight for control and to impress the Princess. They’re all corrupt and this whole idea of being perfect vampires is just implausible.’
‘How do we get out then?’ Fern asked gently.
‘We’ll have to plan it just right, but leave that to me. Hush.’
Ollie squeezed her hand and they both listened to footsteps and voices going past the attic stairs. A door opened and closed, cutting off a rushed giggle.
‘Go back to your room,’ Ollie breathed into her ear, ‘we’ll take again soon enough.’