Chapter 10:

Budding Bond

Adventures of Zeleon

Leon dragged Courtney off to the nature trails that were behind the castle before finally stopping. She squirmed the whole way cause she wanted to eavesdrop on Katrina and Serena's conversation. Leon was hunched over with his hands on his knees like he'd carried a 2000 pound weight with him.

"Ugh...I swear you're as stubborn as a child sometimes! That took everything out of me just to pull you along."

Courtney stamped her feet on the ground.

"I wanted to listen to them!"

"You know we have no business nosing into their family matters. My mom and I have our heated moments and miscommunications too, so trust me when I say they need privacy."

Courtney huffed, sitting on a log that was on the ground.


"I swear I don't know how to deal with moment you can be the most knowledgeable adult, another you act like a kid, and even the biggest tease at times."

She smiled softly as she patted the empty space on the log.

"I think we're overdue for a serious talk in our own right. So, why don't you sit with me and we clear the air about each other?"

"Courtney, this is exactly what I'm talking about. You just acted like a shunned kid and now you want to have an in-depth conversation! Ugh, she's exhausting."

Leon went to the log and sat next to her despite his struggle of understanding her chain of actions. She looked at him with a sweet smile as she put her arm around his outside shoulder.

"I've really wanted to ask you something, and I would like a straight answer. Why are you afraid of being close to me?"

Leon's light brown eyes caught hers in a moment that felt like seconds turned into minutes for him. His natural instinct was to peel her away from him and walk off. However, even with the burning sensation he felt, he stuck through it and gave a clear answer.

"I feel as though I might hurt you. I betrayed my only friend Syrus back home. All for some stupid dream of changing the narrative about me. I still need to face Earth, and face him. But, if I'm capable of that, then I'm capable of hurting others close to me."

Leon put his face into his hands, proving the shame of his actions. Courtney rubbed his shoulder softly.

"I get that. But how can I villainize someone who jumped in front of a sword that was going to impale me. In moved faster than any human ever could. The point is, from how I've seen you, and the guilt you have, you can't be that awful. How bad was your lie?"

Leon lifted his head up out of his hands, sitting more upright as he let out a long sigh.

"You know that ship that got me here, right? I took credit for the blueprints that were sent anonymously. I took it to my friend's father who's a big money CEO and he helped back the making of it. Syrus got jealous and ruined our friendship. I promised my mom to tell the truth after I returned but...I'm here now, having yet to face the music."

"To a certain extent, the fact that major big money people believed you shows how gullible they are and how harmless they think you are. You do have a lot to answer for, but knowing you, you'll take that risk when you do decide to return."

Courtney hopped to her feet as the sun was at her back, making her icy blue hair shine a little bit. Leon looked up at her and completely realized an important question he'd forgotten to ask before.

"How...are you not exploding into flames?"

Courtney laughed as she leaned over him, her chest dangled in front of him which made him look up towards the sky, catching her silver eyes with his own.

"Our species strain had a unique adaptation to the sun. In fact, the Vampire Queen was the only original with that adaptation, and that's been passed down ever since."

Leon stood himself up so he could actually look her in the eyes, as opposed to something else that he tried to avert his gaze from.

"Hmm? Was something distracting you for a moment Leon?"

She giggled at him as she knew exactly what she was doing. "You're so fun to fluster Leon, I can hardly help myself."

Leon knew what her angle was but he did his best to play the dense card. "No. I just wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on me." He paused for a moment as he hopped to his feet and walked a few steps forward, looking over the castle and the town. "Courtney, do you like being a vampire?"

His question seemed to catch her off guard, like she hadn't been asked in quite a long time. Her attitude shifted in her answer. "Truthfully...I hate what I am." Her voice was so monotone it made Leon turn around and make sure it was her speaking.

Her face almost looked sorrowful, with her eyes losing the glint they had only a moment ago. This was something that cut deep into her. Leon felt bad as he looked at her, he felt he pulled the conversation over an emotional landmine.

"I-I'm sorry for bringing it up...if I'd known you'd react like this…"

Courtney quickly shushed him and abruptly hugged him in her arms.

"Don't be sorry for something you didn't know. I've come to terms with this life I have. I want to make an impact for once, change things for the better. It hasn't been easy, I never chose to be this."

She let Leon out of her arms and looked into his eyes, his face had a gentle smile for her as he patted her shoulder. Seeing his expression, Courtney took a deep breath. "The Vampire Queen, Charlotte Winterborne, slaughtered my entire village after receiving a witches' curse. My family, my friends fiancée, I escaped with a bite, and being erm...pure, I was turned."

Leon felt the shiver from her body as she spoke her name, he kept his composure on the outside. "My issues feel so petty right now. She's carried the survivor's guilt all this time, while living lifetime after lifetime of being something she hates."

"You're the epitome of strength to have made it this far, with everything you carry with you."

"No I'm not. It took me almost five centuries to break away. I'm not worthy of such compliments, though I appreciate them. Even now, I shiver when thinking about facing her. She wasn't terrible to me, in fact she treated me like a dear daughter and called me so. But the screams of that day still ring in my head, the sights still flash in my vision. The feeling of horror and dread…."

Leon gripped her hands in his and squeezed them gently as he stood up a bit straighter, making sure to project confidence for her sake. "That's why I'm here right? To work together with you and help these dreams be realized. I'll confront her with you, and you can take solace that you won't be alone."

A breeze came through where they were blowing the trees and the bushes, making their hair sway gently. Courtney gripped Leon's hands like a vice, looking into his light brown eyes fondly. "You can't tell a girl something like that unless you really mean it. So I hope you make due on that promise, or I'll hurt you."

"That's more like the vampire woman I'm used to." Leon tried to move but she wouldn't let go of his hands. "Umm….you don't have to keep holding me like this…"

"I know. I want to though. Your hands are so warm, it feels nice to me. But...I thought of something. Leon, when you go home, can I….come visit you?"

Leon was in a bit of shock when she said this, he looked at her puzzledly as he processed what she asked. "You want to visit Earth? But why…?"

"Leon. This place has been a five century experience for me. I want to learn about Earth's culture and what humans are like there. I want to understand some of the things you say that confuse me. So...can you..maybe?"

"I hate this. If I commit, I'd have to watch her as if she were a newborn puppy. If I don't, this whole conversation goes to hell. What would my mom think if I brought home a vampire? Actually….and even more worrisome….they'd probably hit it off and I'll get dragged everywhere. But, in all honesty, I have this sense I'll owe her anyways."

"I can. But you can't hit, bite or do anything to people there. I'm serious. If people found out I brought back a vampire it would cause an uproar, especially amongst the hardcore religious nuts."

Courtney tried to hold back a laugh as she let go of Leon's hands, seemingly finding his words humorous for some reason.

He got frustrated with her being so dismissive.

"That is not a laughing matter! I'm serious! You can't go fucking around on Earth like that!"

As she calmed herself down, she grinned a full fanged grin at him, a first that he'd seen this close. "I just find it funny and kinda cute how you're so protective is all. I wouldn't have expected it from a fierce loner type, or maybe you just hope for someone to do that with. That's pretty poetic, don't you think?"

"I'm not that protective…."

"Said the one willing to take a wound for me. I never said that was a bad thing, because I used to be the same way. My fiancée ran his mouth off at others and he got in trouble a lot, but I'd always be his backup regardless of the situation."

"But he protected you when it mattered the most."

"Yes. Which is why...even though a piece of me wishes I could've gone to the next plane with him, I live on. He'd want me to."

Leon smiled and began heading farther up the trail. "Who knows, if reincarnation is a reality. You could find his spirit once again."

Courtney tailed him as he moved ahead of her. "It's wishful thinking. But I've never come across him again. So maybe he stayed with everyone else instead."

"True links are stronger than the physical body. When two souls are bonded in unity, space and time don't matter. No matter how far away, they'll return to each other. Destiny is fickle, but these souls define and carve their own. No trial too great, no hurdle too high, for the reunion will be all the more triumphant and sweet. Never stand between souls of destiny. The more they're kept apart, the harder they will fight. In the end, they will always end up together."

Leon rambled that off as he stopped at a waterfall running into a lake that was at the top of the trail. The sound drowned out anything else that was around, as it pounded down into the freshwater lake, leaving small particles that left a pretty mist in the air.

Courtney didn't care about the waterfall. Leon's words were all that went through her mind. She stood a few feet away from him as the image of her fiancée ran through her mind. "No...I must be imagining he said that right? I need to ask him."

"Leon. Where did you hear that from?"

"Hmm? That's something passed down in my Atkins family lineage. Very optimistic thinking, but I can't help but remember it because it's so heartwarming. I know, that's as anti me as it gets, but I don't hate it."

Courtney wondered how that could've been, she'd only heard it from her fiancée many years ago. But, she'd decide not to pry into it.

"You wanna head back now, Leon?"

"In a bit. I just want to take in this view a bit longer, we have falls like this where I'm from. But they never cease to be breathtaking."

"I wholeheartedly agree."

The pair took in the view in silence after getting a better understanding of the other.