All Things In Good Time

© Joan Ann Lansberry

Enduring Love, Enduring Hatred

Sebastian woke to find Robert gone. Daylight was nearly done, so he tried to figure out what he'd do next. As exciting as his last night had been, he wondered why he felt so lonely and empty now.

His very soul felt bruised, as well as his physical inner parts. The man might have well been a phantom, for he was gone. He'd left no note, the man just left, leaving not a trace to suggest he might return.

Sebastian found himself missing sweet Ursula more than he ever had in the past. He hungered for her as though his very soul had been burnt. Would she receive him? He could not stand it. He had to try.

It took four nights journey east to her village, and he was pounding on her sister's door by 5:00am. He hoped someone would answer. Angry sun was about to make its appearance.

''Please, Ursula! Let me in! Please! I've missed you so!'' He knocked loudly, in a rhythmic pattern. Finally, her sleepy sister answered the door, ''YOU! I'm not sure my sister wants to see you. I'll give you a chance, though. She's upstairs.'' Cecilia scowled at him as she let him in.

He crept in to find the house seeming smaller and brighter than before. He climbed the stairs to the attic as quietly as possible. Sebastian found a red-eyed Ursula sitting in the bed, clutching a pillow. He knew he'd been the cause of those tears, and made himself as contrite as possible, kneeling before her, kissing her feet, wrapping his long red hair around her feet, begging her forgiveness.

''I've missed you so! It's been a terrible month, I've been cursed, met my real father, had another confrontation with my not-real father, oh, it's been terrible! I've missed you so! Will you have me?''

Tears flowed out of Ursula's red eyes. She'd missed Sebastian, too. She knew his faults, that he'd never change. He'd never get a job. She'd never have a house of her own. But she loved him anyway. She didn't understand it. But she did. She reached out to Sebastian's thick red hair, and grabbed two sections of it, to pull him closer.

He got off his knees, and joined her on the bed, removed the pillow she'd been clutching, leaned over her, and kissed her with all the tender passion he possessed. He willed all of his being into his lips. As he gently laid her back, he was surprised how much her belly had grown in the month he'd been gone. He gently caressed its swollen contours, feeling rather amazed that he had caused the swelling.

It was not long until she'd need the midwife. Fortunately, he had some guineas left to pay her. Her sister's husband wouldn't have to foot that bill. Sebastian knew Iodine hated him. At least he wouldn't be using his money to feed a drinking habit anymore.

Things settled into a pattern. Ursula was much happier with Sebastian present. He tried to explain his 'curse' to her. He covered all of his arm except for a small bare area of skin. Approaching the small attic window from the side, he cautiously opened it, and exposed his arm to it. The rays coming in through that window did their rapid damage, and when Sebastian could no longer stand the agonizing pain, he slammed the shutter shut.

He removed the cloth which he'd wrapped around his hand and showed her the red, blistered forearm. Ursula was amazed. She didn't want to believe her eyes. Her mind kept wanting to say it was all an elaborate trick he'd invented, to avoid seeking for work. But she'd seen it with her own eyes. His skin was covered with bubbly blisters where the sun had touched it.

What witch would so curse her future husband like that? They arranged the small attic to have a sheltered area. Sebastian moved the bed there, against the wall farthest from the window, so he'd be safe against accidental exposure. He tried to explain other aspects of his curse to her, but she didn't understand. Why would the witch not allow him to eat food? He tried to explain he needed a substance she could not provide, that he had to hunt for it. It was so confusing.

He looked a little different these days, too. His skin, more pale than it had been, had an unusual quality. Warmth never emanated from it. She missed that. He used to keep her so warm on chilly nights. While he absorbed and reflected her own warmth back to her, he did not generate warmth of his own. His eyes seemed harder, and glittered with an intriquing though frightening intensity.

She assured Sebastian she'd keep all these matters private, never revealing any of it to her sister and brother in law. A few days afterwards, they quietly married, and she was now Mrs Sebastian Celadon Blackwell. It was an impressive enough sounding name, at least.

A few weeks later, the baby was born. Sebastian observed the birth with great fascination, still not quite believing he'd had any part in it. Though baby boy's crop of rather red hair served as some evidence. Ursula named him John Cecil Blackwell, to honor her sister and her late grandfather, who had loved her so much.

Although Sebastian was always as loving and attentive as he could be, there were things which gave her chills at times. Soon after the baby was born, Sebastian was cradling him in his arms. He behaved most sweetly until she watched his long, thick tongue protrude and lick the babies head all over. Maybe it was the tongues extreme size that made this action seem bizarre. ''You look like you're going to EAT the baby!'' She declared, rather horrified. Sebastian held the baby protectively, glared at her and accused her, ''What kind of bloodsucker do you think I am?'' Her mouth dropped, as she realized the nature of the substance he required.

She said nothing of it, however. She didn't understand why she loved the bloodsucker so, she just did. He was so grateful for the love, and expressed it via the most tender lovemaking. He still did nothing to earn money, however.

Baby John gave evidence early to a stubborn nature. There was no doubting where that came from. As the years went by, Ursula did the best she could to educate him herself. She knew how to read and write, and little John learned easily. Soon, he was ten years old, and full of mischief. They laughed at the rats he brought to his mother for presents, and laughed at the drawings he made on the attic walls.

They didn't laugh so much the day he set his father on fire, though. Having discovered his father could not bear the sun, he devised a way using mirrors and magnifying glasses to concentrate the sun on a small area of Sebastian's calf, while he slept. The magnifying glass concentrated the sun very well, and fire shot out of the area so subjected.

Sebastian got up, and rolled on the floor to extinguish the flames. He was angry, ''You are full of the devil, you are! What ever possessed you to try such a trick?'' His leg hurt immensely. Ursula laughed, inspite of herself, and told Sebastian, ''I think he got his devilishness from YOU, sweet one!''

John never tried to set fire to his father again, at least not for many years, anyway. John proved a willful nature, though. As the years went by, and he apprenticed himself to Iodine to learn the shoe cobbler's craft, he found himself growing very bitter towards his lazy father. He understood about the sun allergy. But he couldn't see why Sebastian was not able to cover himself in transport to a workshop, and do a day's work. Especially now, that his days of childhood were over, it rankled him greatly to come home from work and find his father just waking up from his day's slumber.

Other things disturbed John, as well. He was nearly twenty now, and fully as tall as Sebastian. His mother was in her forties now. Her hair was beginning to show gray at the edges. Her body had grown plump and saggy. Sebastian was still eerily as he always was, with his full mane of shaggy red hair with not one gray strand, nary a wrinkle on his face, and his waistline still small and tightly thin.

Ursula seemed innocent of such observations and simply continued to enjoy her attentive lover. Sebastian didn't mind the changes she was undergoing. He liked the greater softness of her body and cuddled up in it, enjoying it as always.

But then came the day when John himself appeared older than Sebastian. This could not merely be due to the ease of a completely lazy life. He discussed his suspicions with Cecilia and Iodine, who had noticed these things, as well. The three of them suspected true devil's involvement.

John was now forty years old himself. All of his mother's hair, though still thick and long, had turned completely gray. Wrinkles covered her thin, transparent skin. Sebastian was still with long thick red hair and his skin was as smooth as ever. John confessed his suspicions to his mother, who dismissed them. ''Please do not be angry with your father. He cannot help what he is.''

That the love between Ursula and him would continue until her dying day would later become the sole thing in Sebastian's life he would ever be proud of could not be known this day, when he was still young as a vampire. Ursula, however, was now quite old, and a silent illness was ravaging her body. Her eyes grew deep set and a shadow of gray appeared around them. Sebastian still seemed like a child, when it came to understanding her vulnerability.

She could not battle the illness forever. One day her spirit left her, as she laid in their bed. Before it did, she had just enough strength to whisper to Sebastian one last time, ''I love you, sweet one!'' He still did not understand what had happened. It took several hours in which he laid beside her, before he noticed she really and truly wasn't breathing.

When he finally understood, the shock was incapacitating. He threw himself over her body and wailed. His long thick red hair lay strewn over her inert form, while he wailed, ''Cursed! I am cursed! I should be as you now! I am cursed!''

With Ursula no longer living to prevent John, he enacted his revenge swiftly. He lit a torch and came upon the sobbing Sebastian. ''Out of our house, DEVIL! Get out, now!'' He shoved it towards Sebastian's face. Sebastian numbly looked at John, and his eyes recorded for him the evidence of the fire.

But he did not react. ''Get OUT, devil, or I will set you afire!'' Sebastian rose, still in a daze and stumbled down the steps, torch bearing John behind him. He stumbled out the door, and John followed with the torch. ''If I ever see you again, I will destroy you! Don't ever return!''

Sebastian replied, still under the sense of a nightmare's unreality, ''Yes, of course. I'll not return.'' He stumbled down the path. If he had thought better, he'd had taken a horse. But he was off, weaving down the road, with only the clothes on his back. Tears still flowed from his eyes.

He wandered until he found the nearest town. Daylight was an hour away. Did he have money for a room? He looked at his pockets. ''Not enough!'' Shock had wore off long enough for panic to set in. A strange, but oddly familiar face showed itself in the shadows! It was the mysterious lady, after all these years!

''I've been watching you, little devil! Do you not have any idea how your present state could have been avoided? How might your son not have grown to hate you so?'' she exacted from him. Her face, too, was the same as the day he'd first met her.

''Has she been cursed as well? Did she curse me with the selfsame curse as she herself possesses?'' Sebastian wondered. ''Never mind ME! I'm asking about YOU! You truly, despite your sensitivity to the sun, could not find any way to earn money? None at all? Or could it be, you were too lazy to never even think about it? And as to the education of your son, YES, due to Ursula alone, he knows how to read. But what of the fine education YOU'VE received? You imparted not one drop of it to your son! Of what use was it? You have earned your son's hatred, Sebastian! You have earned it with every moment of negligence!''

Sebastian did not argue. He was still too stunned. But her words would echo often in his mind, in the years to come. ''I will leave you now, foolish one. Perhaps in the centuries to come, you will become wiser. The elders wait and hope. They always hope.''

With that, the mysterious lady disappeared. Before she did, she tossed a few coins at Sebastian, which hit him in the face. He gratefully took them and sought safe shelter.

go to Chapter Thirty-Two, ''Ready For A Change''
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