“That day the devil didn’t lie” is just the pretentious title of the second short story of this special month. As part of the contest, I had to write a story containing a cliché – two characters bumping into each other and immediately falling in love.
The inspiration for the story came from the relationship between Subaru and Seishiro of Tokyo Babylon and X/1999 – read them both, they are great but be warned that X is still not complete (and might never be… long story).
I hope you will enjoy it.
“Mom, why are you smiling?”
The moment of the youth’s arrival at Austerlitz station sparked a strange sort of bustle amongst the cops. Incredulous, they forgot the oppressive May heat and began clearing the way to let him pass. He was holding a little girl by the hand.
Several girls crowded around, eager to see a Semayi Sewochi for the first time.
“The head of the family? He seems so young!” murmured a policeman, meeting the warlock’s gaze.
Anton beamed warmly at him and gave him the child’s hand.
“There are things my sister ought not to see,” he said firmly. “Virginie, wait here for me.”
Strange that they summoned him for a straightforward murder, he thought. The police are starting to call on divination a bit too often. But he changed his mind as soon as she saw the young woman’s dead body.
No sign of violence. No injury. Nothing. Someone had ordered life to quit that body and the order had been obeyed.
Nobody had any such power, outside of the Abreu family. His family.
He raced straight back outside, to the annoyance of the cops, grabbing back his sister’s hand from the policeman he had left her with.
The ruins of the Eiffel Tower were visible through the windshield – a grim reminder to warlocks like him not to try and play God. Virginie, on the seat next to him, was clearly bored with the car journey and the heat.
He decided to call his grandmother. The oldest member of the Abreu family, she had witnessed the opening of the dark gates, the descent of the gods of hell and the war that followed until they were closed again. She and the other warlocks had put the Jade Emperor on the throne and remained loyal to him ever since. If someone had played the traitor, Alcida Abreu would have surely have known of it.
“There are no traitors amongst the Abreu,” repeated the old woman for the third time, “No-one, amongst all the Semayi Sewochi, has ever shown more loyalty to the Emperor than we have!”
“The killer has…” Anton broke off suddenly. Virginie seemed to be having difficulty breathing. The young man ended his call and parked. Through the window, he could see a small clinic.
“There’s no truth in it!” Alcida kept repeating to herself, “The Berenyawi doesn’t exist. Why should it?”
“If the Semayi Sewochi are the Emperor’s sword in battle, the Berenyawi is like a blade in the shadows,” her tutor used to tell her. Just tales to frighten children with. So why was she afraid? Could there be someone else as powerful as the head of the Abreu family?
She felt her heart tighten as she thought of Anton. Nobody had ever shown as much promise as that boy. “But his nature…,” she thought. “He’s too pure for this world!”
Anton hastily entered the clinic, his sister in his arms. Ignoring the waiting queue, he ended up crashing into one of the doctors, who turned and, seeing the baby, wrenched it from him and ran at once into a back room, closely followed by the young warlock. As he watched him tending to his sister, Anton thought the doctor looked like an angel. He could only stand there as if turned to stone. As Virginie came around, the fear drained out of his body and his attention switched to the young doctor – observing his movements as he took care of the little girl brought him a feeling of peace. The warlock had never felt this way before and, with tears in his eyes, embraced the doctor and thanked him. He felt tiny, pressed against his chest and marvelling at how good it felt to be there, while the doctor laid a hand on his head, recommending him to keep Virginie out of the Sun.
The thought of that gentle smile and those dark eyes behind thick glasses stayed in his mind for the rest of the day.
The next three months flew by so fast. He could still remember that phone call and how happy he had been at hearing the voice of Ythier. How could have forgotten having given him his number?
He could recall every moment of those three months. Their friendly chats when they got home after work, the fights about Ythier’s smoking, a habit which Anton couldn’t bear, the evenings spent on the couch watching movies and the times when the young doctor used to worry about his safety. “The job is just too dangerous” he kept telling him. He had left him at the park playing with his sister, the only person she liked to be with, apart from himself. He tried to remember their smiles as they shared an ice cream. That evening he was finally going to tell him.
But when he came back home, there was no-one waiting for him there. The police called him and he rushed downtown. An entire hotel under siege and a single demand: the head of the Abreu family.
His heart froze when he stepped into the dark, empty hotel lobby and found only two hostages, his sister, tied up, and beside her, Ythier.
“Do you still not get it?” he said, “That day at Austerlitz station, I saw you and I made up my mind. Whichever of us was first to fall in love with the other would die. Romantic, isn’t it? “. He laughed hysterically. A strange force impelled Anton toward the wall, trapping him. He might have freed himself but he couldn’t stop thinking about those three months, the time spent together. He was unafraid, even as the killer approached. It didn’t matter if he killed him. As if reading his thoughts, Ythier’s nails became claws, ready to strike out. Not at him, though. At Virginie.
The next moment, the little one saw Ythier’s corpse fall at her feet, her brother’s fist through his chest. There were tears on Anton’s face. And on Ythier’s, just a smile – his usual, calm, sweet smile.
Anton had just completed the exorcism and felt exhausted. He knew that Virginie was waiting for him in the garden, probably bored. He longed for a cigarette – the only thing, ever since that fateful day, that could help him shake off his thoughts.
Suddenly, the phone rang. It was a message: the whereabouts of his next target.
“Mom, why are you smiling?” asked the child. His white clothes covered in red stains. Blood was dripping from his right hand – he had had no choice.
“The joy of dying at the hands of the one you love most. One day, you too will feel it, my son. On that day, you will understand.”
His mother gazed at him lovingly. For the last time. Then all that was left was a living smile on a lifeless face.
Thanks to Ellen Prior for the translation.
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