Heart of Stone Ch. 04


"I know." She felt tears filling her eyes again, but they were less for her own pain and more for his. "I'm sorry I was jealous, I couldn't help it." He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes.

"Do you believe that that is why I punished you?" He sounded genuinely surprised. One hand caressed her bruised bottom softly.

"Well, yes." Mary was equally surprised. She relaxed against him and enjoyed his touch again, without thinking about it. "I mean I know I lied and that upset you, but I thought it was more that I was jealous."

"Child, your emotions are neither right nor wrong. I would no sooner punish you for having a feeling than I would for coughing. If you had simply told me how you felt we would have discussed it and moved forward from there. Did you aunt punish you for what you felt?" The pads of his fingers were stroking lightly over her skin. Mary didn't trust her voice and she nodded, his arms tightened around her again and his tail softly gripped her leg. She forgot her anger and embarrassment and once again he was her source of nurturing comfort. "You will be recovered from your beginnings, sweet one. I will not apologize for correcting you, but will you forgive me for bruising you?"

"Yes." Mary said softly.

"And are you still angry?" He pulled the covers up over shoulders and a little sigh escaped Mary's lips and the last of the tension left her body.

"A little." She said. She felt his low chuckle more than she heard it.

"I can live with that." He kissed her forehead and Mary found his lips with hers. On most nights she would have settled next to him, but this wasn't most nights. She closed her eyes and fell asleep on his chest.


For the next three months Mary concentrated on learning magic. At first the books were incomprehensible but Aiden was a patient guide through the basics. She found that once she mastered those the rest came very naturally to her. There were a few bumps along the way, one of the largest was when Mary misspoke and prevented Aiden's transformation from stone to flesh. It took her over a week to find her mistake and how to reverse it.

When Aiden finally woke Mary was afraid that he would be angry with her. He was annoyed, but that was because the spell she used was imperfect. His physical desires were not quelled and he had spent that time hungry, thirsty and in need of sex. After being without him for that length of time, Mary found that her need for him was just as great. The beast in him slipped the fetters of his control in that encounter and she was left with with intimate bruises, long deep scratches on her hips, and Aiden's guilt. Everything was healing relatively well he wouldn't let go of his worry until she was healed completely.

Mary wasn't thinking about his guilt as she paced in the sitting room though. She barely heard the balcony door open and close.

"Mary," His eyebrows were drawn together as he looked at her. "You will only command your new abilities if you can control them."

At first Mary was confused, until she followed the direction of his gaze and looked over her head. She blushed a bit as she waved her hand through the dark, swirling thoughtforms that chased each other there, dissipating them like so much smoke.

"Sorry." He lifted her Mary kissed him, holding on with her arms and legs longer than usual. "I guess I was just worrying and not thinking about what else was happening."

"I gathered that you were upset." He brought her over to the bedroom and set her carefully on her feet. "Get undressed." He kissed her forehead and disappeared into the bathroom and Mary complied without hesitation, pulling her short silk robe around herself before getting into bed. He emerged a few minutes later carrying the white enamel bowl and a smaller bowl with a thick green paste in in it. Mary lay on her side and lifted her robe to the waist, revealing the scratches.

"They're not as red as yesterday." She said softly.

"So I see." He turned her slightly and pushed the robe off of her shoulder. Mary took the hint and slid out of it, even though she kept herself covered as much as possible. "Are you still using that other ointment?"

"No." She had started out using an antibiotic cream but found his green paste that smelled like spicy grass clippings worked much better. He used a small basting brush to apply a thick layer to the scratches. She winced as the treatment stared to burn. "There didn't seem to be a need."

"As I said." He smiled a bit as he said it.

"How did you know it would work so well anyway?" He sat down and Mary pillowed her head against his thigh. His fingers moved through her hair and Mary shivered pleasantly.

"Because I have used it before, with one of your ancestors."

"Which one?" Mary still hadn't investigated the family history as much as she should have, but if she didn't ask something he would ask her what was wrong.

"John Beeson. He had been out hunting and was struck with an arrow. In those times any injury was serious, but he was struck in the meat of his arm and wound seemed minor. Within several days though the wound acquired a foul stench that left no doubt that all of the remedies and prayers were not working. I spoke to his father of this remedy and since there was little hope of anything else working I was allowed to try. All were surprised that it worked so well."

"I thought you were a warrior." Mary's body was relaxed and burning sting had subsided. She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath. He laughed softly.

"I am, but it is useful for one who fights to know how to heal himself, and his comrades." His talons lightly stroked her back. "That is not to say that what is healing for our kind is always healing for yours, but there are overlaps." He lifted her head and Mary moved so he could stand. Aiden carefully washed the ointment from her skin and Mary turned. He began treating the other side. "So what upset you so today?"

"Mr. and Mrs. March want to leave." She drew in a sharp breath and closed her eyes as the burning spread through her other hip.

"Ambrose told me when he hired them. Do they wish to move to another position, or end work entirely?" The wounds on this side were deeper and the treatment was more uncomfortable. Mary shivered a bit, but Aiden continued until each scratch was covered.

"No, Mrs. March said she thinks Mr. March is ill, because he's seeing things." Mary tried to be vague and hoped that he would just accept that with no further explanation.

"What is he seeing?" He helped her sit up a little and rest against his side. Mary was silent until he lifted her chin.

"You." She said softly. "I guess we haven't been as careful as I'd thought. Anyway, Mrs. March thinks that he's hallucinating and she wants to move to London where he can be under the care of psychiatrist."

"A what?" He was looking at her curiously.

"Sorry, a doctor that specializes in the treatment of mental illnesses."

"Ah." He held her silently for a few minutes. "Do you trust them?"

"Of course. I can't imagine being here without them, much less how I'm going to find someone else to take over their jobs. Maggie hinted that she would make a good housekeeper, but I don't think I could stand having her around any more than she is."

"Have you considered telling them?" Mary looked up, surprised to see that he was being perfectly serious. She didn't know how to respond. "We were not always secrets you know. I do not know how knowledge of our kind was so thoroughly obliterated, but our kind lived openly with yours. I know the world has changed, but if you can trust these two, I see no reason to keep the secret from them."

"I was wondering how I would keep the other a secret, if I managed to wake her that is." Mary was still not certain how the conversation would sound like, but the idea made sense.

"I have no doubt that you will wake the other." He stroked her face softly and smiled into her eyes. Mary blushed and snuggled against him. "Consider it, child." He kissed her lightly and then reached for the cloth again.

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