“I believe the two of you have met before? Rafe, Your Majesty Cassandra.” Rao nods to them both and I try to hide behind Rafe’s muscular form but Rao continues “I also believe you’ve had the delight of meeting Miss Arcana over there.” I gulp and give a brief wave as Cassandra’s sharp eyes focus on me with a glare. Rafe slides to the side and I see Cassandra in all her terrifying glory. Her eyes glistened red in the dash of sun stretching through the trees, long glowing black hair, dark as a raven’s wing. She wore a long sleeved dress that clutched at her neck like it was choking her and the bodice glistening with silver and gold entwining and reaching towards the long skirt. “Hello again Rafe,” she smiles surprisingly warmly at him and I catch Rafe blush slightly before his skin returns to it normal pallor, he coughs slightly and smiles his reply “and... to you.” She scrunches her noise up at me and I can tell she’s reliving the memory. She gestures towards the carriage and Rao hops in with a barking laugh, I scowl and follow after Rafe but she stops me before I get in, sharp nails digging slightly into my skin “I will get you back for what you did to me, silly girl.” She snarls and smiles at me menacingly pushing in front of me with a swish of her hair. I follow behind entering a carriage that was definitely bigger on the inside than outside.
Cassandra instantly orientates herself around Rafe, which makes a jealousy rise in me that I never knew was there. I glare at her and sit in a corner near Rao who merely raises his brow at me but then returns to grooming his tail, Rafe looks over to me questioningly but turns to Cassandra as she begins to speak in mumbled whispers to him causing him to blush uncomfortably. “It doesn’t bode well to stare at them child.” Rao’s voice removes the green jealousy monster that was rising within me; I sigh and turn away from him looking out of the carriage window. “I wasn’t staring.” I say stubbornly and he snorts at my response. Trees whiz by, some branches knocking against the window every now and again. “What’s between them two anyway?” I glance back over at them as Rafe leans away from a persistent and desperate looking Cassandra. “The past, my dear girl.” Rao says with a growl and brief laugh with which he lays his head down and goes to sleep.
After an hour or so Cassandra leaves Rafe alone as he pretends to sleep and she leaves with a snarl at me and a sorrowful, lustful glance at Rafe. I laugh as the door closes and he peeps over to me letting out a sigh of relief. He puts his fingers to his lips as I cautiously approach and sit next to him. “Well that was a bag of fun.” I tease and shove him jokingly. He chuckles lowly and sighs “I can never escape the crazy ones.” A darkness creeps into his eyes again and I edge slightly away from him, he notices and the darkness goes away as quick as it came, his gaze softens slightly. “Sorry.” His sorry makes me angry, all he ever says is sorry.
“Stop saying sorry!” I snap and he looks at me shocked “Damn it. All you do is brood about your mysterious past and then apologise for nothing.”
He continues to look at me as my vision starts to tint red and I hear Raoul mutter barely audible “Rafe I’d be careful women can be touchy sometimes.” I don’t know where this anger comes from but it keeps me fuelled as I glare at Rafe “Raphael and your shadows and golden secretive eyes.” He jumps at the sound of his name and his eyebrows furrow, my steam running out I clutch angrily at straws “You and that stuck-up vampire queen. This stupid journey that the Oracle sent me on and now it turns out might be about my family. My mother an-and father.” I finally choke and break down, dry angry sobs escape and I curl up putting my head in my knees. I can sense Rao staring at me and Rafe’s questioning gaze jumping between me and Rao unsure of what to do.
Rao mumbles something I assume only Rafe can hear and he gets up leaving with a yawn. All along Rafe stays quiet and sobs shake my body. I pull my hair beating myself up for my silly and childish behaviour, when I feel a pair of strong arms grab my wrists to stop me, they pull me onto his lap cradling me like a baby as I continue to sob. Rafe sighs, “You know I was waiting for you to break,” he starts and my sobbing slows “My past is something that is dark and dangerous. I don’t want to involve you in it Dahlia.” He starts to stroke me hair and the old tingles come back. I pull myself together. “Sorry.” I mutter and he chuckles pulling me against his chest “Stop saying sorry,” he whispers into my ear and I sigh, lifting my head up and see him looking down at me golden eyes melting mine. “Your eyes have silver flecks in them,” he smiles “They’re very pretty.” He bends his head down towards mine and I gasp a thank you. I lift up my chin up a fraction a tiny hope in the back of my mind hoping for a kiss but it doesn’t come. He sighs and just holds me. I lower my head.
“I suppose you can never see me as normal again?” I ask and he laughs “You were never normal Dahlia and as I said earlier I never escape the crazy ones.” I blush and laugh quietly, my outburst behind me now. We sit that way for the rest of the journey until the carriage begins to slow and Rao enters the room with his familiar knowing raised brow, Cassandra following behind speaking to him in hushed tones. I quickly jump off Rafe’s lap and look out of the window to see the old Arcana house standing tall and crooked, porch paint cracking and shutters hanging off, though windows sparkling clean and flowers over flowing in the beds and plant pots. The Oracle stood old and frail on the porch looking directly at me through the tinted windows. “Hello again Sweetie.”