Sep didn’t ask any questions, he guided her to the bathroom and sat her on the laundry basket while he ran the taps, steam rolling off the water as it swirled into the corners of the tub. He held her hand so gently, smiling as he helped her step into the bath, like a lord helping a lady out of a carriage. Sitting there watching her submerged limbs turn pink, Christina sat placidly as Sep dribbled water over her shoulders and neck, the crusty, rust coloured symbols flaking away bit by bit and dissolving in the hot water.
As they disappeared, she gradually began to feel more herself and weariness crept over her, her muscles relaxing in the soothing heat of the water. A slight delirium tugged at the back of her mind, anxiousness tightening the corners of her eyes as her brain whispered to her of some horrible experience that she was blocking out. We’ll let you remember when you can deal with it – her subconscious told her barely waking mind.
She woke with perfect alertness, weighted down by the quilted and woollen blankets that had been heaped upon her, she calmly pushed them aside. There was no confusion, she knew exactly where she was. Home.
The bed was high and as she swung her feet over the edge of the bed and dropped them to the floor she could see the silver blue moonlight slashing across the mirrored wardrobe. She walked ceremoniously to it’s shining, hard, cold surface and touched it with the reverence that a child has for unfamiliar objects that have little worth to grown ups who know their purpose. She could see her dark eyes reflected very close to her face, the whites taking on the pale colour of the moon. She heard a wolf howl, very close, just outside her window and a ripple of fear ran through her. Christina searched her own reflection for protection, as if imploring her mirror image to fight in her stead.
It was then that she began to drink in her reflection, the liquid contours of her body, highlighted here and there by the moonlight, the dip of her navel, the round ball of her shoulder and slash of her shoulder blade. She gasped, at first in horror then in delight as the satanic charms began to appear all over her body again, not painted on in blood but bursting out from beneath her skin, pushed outwards from the core of herself. She raised her arms in the air to study those symbols on her rib cage as they moved with her excited breathing, it was as if they had always been there, just below the surface, waiting the expanse of years to be revealed.
The wolf howled impatiently, and this time Christina grinned at herself in the mirror. She could feel the danger of the predator but no longer his meek prey she revelled in the idea of sharp long teeth, lips snarling over dark pink gums, coursing with blood and adrenaline. She could feel that within her she had the power to rip the wolf apart by it’s limbs if she had to. Filled with hunger for the fight she flew down the stairs and through the kitchen, throwing open the back door. Tiny tornados of soot swirled around the skirting boards, but Christina didn’t notice, her teeth and eyes sparkled with glee as she searched the night for her destiny.
It took her breath away when Sep stepped out of the shadows, smiling.
‘Christina… how are you feeling?’ He asked, she could sense insincerity in his movements, the arrogant twist of his mouth.
‘Fantastic’ She circled around him as she spoke. ‘What did you do to me?’
‘Nothing!’ he exclaimed, holding his hands up in mock innocence.
He twisted to face her as she prowled around and around him. ‘Christina I…’
‘Liar!’ she snarled, before he had chance to defend himself.
For a brief moment he glimpsed the volcano of power that was Christina erupting just behind her eyes, he sensed the very real danger that despite all his dark arts, he could easily be washed away by the fire and lava. For a brief moment he felt no bigger or more consequential than an ant. He had to get her back on his side, leash her in.
‘Christina, can’t you feel the raw elemental force unleashed within you? You were nothing before, a mediocre career in front of you, failed relationship. Now you are a goddess…’ He took a breath, a dramatic pause but she stole his thunder.
‘I? a goddess?’ She was toying with him now, a thrilling mix of anger and playfulness. ‘ I thought that Sandy was your queen of the gods.’
Septimus recognised the game. If simple flattery was all she wanted, she was already on his side.
‘Oh baby’ he said brave enough to reach out and put his hand lightly on her arm ‘you are so much more than Hera.’
Suddenly, an image flashed in Christina’s mind, and one again she was swathed in luxurious blue fabric, stood between two grate pillars, with the beautiful, shimmering curtain of pomegranate seeds behind her.
‘… and whatever flame has been lit in you, I struck the match.’ He edged further forward and with his hand in her wild, dark hair he kissed her.
Christina pushed him to the ground roughly. She was full of energy raging inside, like a tornado and so hungry for Sep. She knelt down over him seductively, moving serpent like, lowering herself onto his body.
On the spot where the cards had fallen the night before, Christina could feel that as their limbs entwined, so their fates, there was no going back. But at the back her mind, lay the newly discovered certainty that what ever was behind the curtain that caught the light like thousands of beads of blood, was hers alone to give or withhold, and that she would always have that over him.