Innocence - A London Nights Short Story
Everyone makes mistakes in their lives. It’s part of who we are. Some mistakes are minor. Some are bigger. And some have terrible consequences. It’s how we deal with these consequences that defines who we are as a person.
Do we face them bravely, head on? Or do we run from them? And if given the opportunity, how far would we be willing to go to undo what we have done?
Jonathan Bouchard has made a terrible mistake and it cost him dearly. And tonight, in the heart of London, the borough of Westminster is the stage for a play that will decide about the young witch’s future.
Westminster, London, 2004
Jonathan had to hold himself up against one of the marble columns. All strength had vanished as soon as those double doors closed behind him. He stood alone in the entry hall of the Witch Council. Light streamed through the high windows of the room, even though it was nighttime. The Council Chamber existed in a pocket dimension, hidden away right under everyone’s eyes and yet unseen in the heart of London. Once he stepped outside the front gate, he would emerge right into the busy streets of the Embankment, only a short walk from the Houses of Parliament, where the mortal politicians gathered.
“Congratulations,” his barrister said. Wentworth Carter had taken his case pro-bono, claiming that he did it for the exposure.
London’s witch community was abuzz with gossip about the street witches who had performed some incredibly dangerous ritual which had backfired terribly. The case against the sole survivor of the disaster had made the papers. Depending what publication one was reading, he was either to be executed or celebrated as a subversive hero.
The infamously conservative “The Telegram” called him a dangerous lunatic and went into great lengths about how Jonathan’s generation had no regard for the hardships and the work which had been put in by their elders and how witch society had lost its greatness while also managing to squeeze in some vitriol against the influence of continental witches. On the other side of the spectrum, “The Warden” celebrated this attempt as bringing down the outdated and unjust social hierarchy and wanted to give him a weekly column and suggested he should actually run for the Witch Council.
Whatever Carter had told the Council, however, Jonathan knew it was a lie. One of many. This wasn’t about exposure, it was to keep an eye on him.
“Thanks,” Jonathan managed.
“One last advice, my friend,” he said this with such incredible insincerity that it almost sounded genuine again, “I would take it slow for a while. Maybe travel a little. The continent is beautiful this time of year.”
He slapped his hand on Jonathan’s shoulder which made him wince. His body still hurt, the wounds healed just enough for him to be able to stand trial. Wentworth Carter smiled one last time and walked off towards the exit, whistling.
He had done a good job. A ruling of five to two in his favour was more than Jonathan had ever expected. Carter was a showman, he had taken the stage and spun a yarn about how Jonathan was a victim of circumstance. The young witch from a middle-class family, orphaned at a young age. Fallen in with the wrong crowd, brainwashed by an enigmatic leader.
Jonathan clenched his hands so hard that his nails dug into his palms. He had done the same in the Council Chamber.
Benjamin didn’t deserve this. He had been an idealist. Unwavering in his belief in a bright future for street witches. In his utopia of a network between them, fittingly called “The Cooperative”. Something which would never come to pass now.
A slow clap broke the silence of the entry hall. Jonathan turned to find Callista Fernsby, High Witch of the Coven and member of the Council, coming towards him. She had lost her formal wig and robe and now looked quite fashionable in her dark purple business suit. Her heels clicked on the floor. Long black hair which gradually changed to a soft pink at its tips cascaded around her attractive face. The colours complimented her dark, immaculate skin. Her deep brown eyes rested on Jonathan, she made no effort to hide her disdain.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jonathan said. He steeled himself, not willing to give the High Witch an inch.
Callista gestured towards the doors of the Council Chamber.
“I didn’t expect a show like that. Carter truly knows his job. My fellow Council members were thoroughly enthralled by his cock and bull story about your innocence.”
“Bitterness is a really ugly trait, Headmistress.”
“Oh, now you’re showing respect, are you? Where was that when you were enrolled at the Coven? When you called me “The High Bitch”?”
Jonathan smirked but didn’t reply.
“You haven’t changed a bit, Bouchard. You’re still the pathetic little wannabe-rebel that you were back when you attended class at the Coven. You think you’re so special, but you’re not.”
“Are you quite finished?”
Jonathan didn’t wait for a reply. He turned and started towards the exit. However, his hope of making it out of this was shattered as he heard Callista’s voice again.
“I don’t know how you can live with yourself.”
Jonathan stopped. He knew he should just keep on walking but something in him refused to take another step. He didn’t face the High Witch but he also didn’t leave.
“I was acquitted. You heard the verdict.”
“The result of lies upon lies. I know who Benjamin Oakes was. He wasn’t a fanatic or an anarchist. You might think that I’m a heartless monster but I know what is happening outside of the Coven walls. Benjamin Oakes. Reuben McShane, Jessica Crawford, Callum Everly, Sylvia…”
“Enough!” Jonathan faced her, anger in his eyes, “You can stop name-dropping the members of MY coven. Of my family! Don’t pretend you and your high and mighty kind care one tiny fuck about us! You are all about gate-keeping, about hoarding power and keeping it from the likes of us!”
“No,” Callista said, unfazed by his outbreak, “we are all about keeping it from the likes of you. Not them. You.”
Jonathan stared at her, anger turning into blazing hatred. He wanted to attack her, to throw his magic at this bitch who tormented him with the names of the people who had died while he was still here.
“I know this world isn’t just. I know that people slip through the cracks. However, you didn’t slip through the cracks, Bouchard,” she continued, still calm and collected, almost cold, “you chose this. You chose to squander what was given to you. You chose to throw it away because you are greedy and you think you’re special. You aren’t special, Jonathan. You never were. And now you see where your hubris led. It’s written on your body, the scars you will keep, but it also tainted your soul. Your heart was dark to begin with but now all these people gave their lives on the altar of your arrogance.”
She’s trying to get you to confess, Jonathan thought. She wants you to tell her that it was you who talked them into performing this ritual. This is a trap.
“What do you want from me?” he said, smirking dismissively, “do you expect me to tearfully break down and confess something that I didn’t do? I was acquitted of all charges. It’s over Callista.”
“The trial is over,” the High Witch said, “but for you, it will never be over. I hope that you will wake up screaming every time that you fall asleep. Screaming because you hear their voices and you know what you have done.”
With that, she walked past him, and out of the front door. The bustling noise of the city filled the chamber for a moment, then silence fell again as the doors slammed shut behind the High Witch. Jonathan was alone again.
He stared into the emptiness of the entrance hall. Blood dripped from his palm. His fingernails had broken the skin, so hard had he pressed them into his hand. He looked at his hands. At the tattoos which covered his fingers. Each and every one of them was made by Benjamin. It had been painful, yes, but also one of the most intimate moments of their relationship.
“They’ll help you focus.”
Benjamin had learned this technique from an elderly street witch who had taken to teaching young witches in her ways.
Jonathan could clearly hear Ben’s voice. And he heard the others, too. Reuben, who complained about the empty fridge. Jess, who bickered with Ben about the best way of building a future for them. Callum, who had taken over as the “new one” from Jonathan and had been so eager to prove himself.
Reuben’s scream as the energies tore him apart. Jess’ incredulous face moments before she burst into pieces. The horror in Callum’s eyes when he realized Jon would let him die in order to save Benjamin instead. Ben, his hand stretched out towards him. And…
Jonathan realized that he was crying. His body trembled as tears rolled down his face. He slammed his fist into the column next to him, bruising his fingers in the process. No, he wouldn’t allow Callista to win. He wouldn’t let this destroy him.
Jonathan stepped out of the Council Hall and to everyone else around him, it looked as if he was exiting Westminster Station, one of the busiest tube stations on the grid. No one paid attention to him as he walked out into the rainy street. The Houses of Parliament rose out of the pouring rain on the opposite side of the street, bathed in light. To his left, Westminster Bridge spun across the Thames towards St Thomas Hospital, the London Aquarium and of course one of the city’s newest attractions, the London Eye. More like the London Eye Sore, as far as Jonathan was concerned.
He has been on the giant ferris wheel with Ben, even in a gondola all to themself, thanks to a little bit of magic. It hadn’t looked so ugly back then.
He didn’t even feel the rain that drenched him, seeping through the fabric of the well-cut suit that he was wearing. A gift from Mr Carter.
“It’s the clothes that make a man. Your clothes say “juvenile delinquent”, these say “upstanding citizen”, so you will wear this suit even if I must sew you into it myself.”
He looked around aimlessly, not knowing where to turn. Going back to the hotel where he was staying seemed like the best idea. Where else could he go? There was nowhere left. Their safehouses were empty, there was no one there. Tears crept back into his eyes and he forced them down. He wouldn’t start crying in public.
He turned following the voice and found a young beautiful woman standing next to a booth that sold tacky memorabilia to tourists. The effortless grace of the woman seemed strangely out of place next to cheap snow globes with Big Ben inside or the unavoidable “Keep calm and carry on” pins. She wore a dark pants suit over a pearly white blouse, her curly chestnut-coloured hair put up into a simple yet elegant bun. The rain hammered against her black brolly. For one terrible moment, more painful than anything that had come before, Jonathan felt himself transported back three years into the past. To the crossing in front of Tottenham Court Road station.
It had been raining back then, too, as much as today. He had been alone in the rain, drenched, with nowhere to go when, suddenly, he had sensed the presence of another witch. And there he had been: Ben. With a brolly much like the one the woman was holding now, standing there, smiling. Saying nothing more than: “Hi, I’m Ben.”
The woman’s voice dragged Jonathan back to reality. Ben wasn’t here. He was dead.
“I’m not giving any interviews, no matter what kind of paper you’re from, lady.”
“I don’t work for the media, I’m afraid. You don’t recognize me, I take it?”
Jonathan groaned. He was tired, he was close to an emotional breakdown and he surely wasn’t in the mood for guessing games.
“Look, no offence, but I have no fucking clue who you are. So either tell me or do me a favour and fuck off.”
“Charming,” she said, “you might have heard my name even though my face is unfamiliar to you. I’m Elisabeth Whitechurch.”
He froze. Jonathan knew who that was. The name Elisabeth Whitechurch carried weight even in his corners of the city, far away from her Ivory Tower in Highgate. Whitechurch Manor, London HQ of the world-wide Whitechurch Society. And this was the founder of said Society, a socialite, philanthropist and vampire. Jonathan’s eyes flicked over their surroundings, trying to locate the operatives of the Society in the crowd. No one seemed to take notice of them, though.
“So, your agents are around us ready to pounce?”
“My agents usually don’t pounce,” she smiled warmly.
Jonathan snorted. He couldn’t cause a scene right in front of the Witch Council building. Not to mention in front of the tourists and Londoners who were around them.
“I have been acquitted of all charges, lady, if this is supposed to be some kind of vigilante justice, I should warn you that I will fight back.”
Elisabeth smiled again, amused. “My agents don’t pounce and neither do we peddle in vigilante justice. I’m not here as your enemy, Mr Bouchard. I’m here to offer you something.”
“You haven’t even heard my offer yet.”
He crossed his arms in front of his chest. His shirt stuck to his skin, wet and cold.
“I read about you in the papers and I have been following your trial with utmost interest. Congratulations on your verdict,” she continued.
“Is this going somewhere?”
“I want to offer you a position in the Whitechurch Society.”
Jonathan thought that he must have misheard. Elisabeth Whitechurch wanted him to join her little club of do-gooders?
“You’re nuts, lady.”
“No, I recognize an asset when I see one. What you achieved and what you survived. My group is always looking for people who are special.”
So she thought that he was special. It was downright ironic, right after Callista’s speech about how he was not special. Jonathan didn’t care either way.
“An asset,” he said dismissively, “is that what you think I am? Well, you’re wrong. I won’t work for you, not now, not ever. You think you can just waltz up to me and pick me off the street now that I have been declared innocent? Now you care for me but you and your agents don’t give a shit about my kind otherwise. I don’t work for people like you.”
“You should at least think about it,” she insisted, stepping closer and holding out her business card, “my offer stands. Just give me a call.”
“If you fuck off then, fine.” He took the card and turned on his heel.
“I hope to hear from you, Mr Bouchard.”
He held up his hand and gave her the finger while walking away from her as calmly as he could without making it seem like he was fleeing. He didn’t stop until he reached the underpass at the Embankment which led down to the tube. He walked down the stairs and tossed the business card into the next bin that he passed. What was that bitch thinking? Working for her, yeah, when Hell froze over. Jonathan went through the turnstile. He didn’t have an Oyster Card, he just put his hand on the scanner and it registered. Magic, ever so helpful. The escalators took him down to the platform and he finally felt like he had gotten away.
Jonathan was staying at a “Travel Lodge” hotel within walking distance of Greenwich DLR station. The unassuming modern building housed one of the chains many hotels all across the UK which provided a functional and affordable stay for tourists with limited budgets. It could be called a glorified hostel but Jonathan had been sleeping in worse places. All of them seemed more inviting in hindsight because he had been there with Ben.
He had chosen the hotel deliberately because it was further away from the regular tourist locations. Greenwich was enjoying a resurgence in popularity lately, mostly due to the same cycle of gentrification as other boroughs but it remained less crowded for now.
He walked through the small simple lobby, past the bar where a few guests were enjoying an evening drink, when the young man behind the desk called out to him.
“Welcome back, Mr Bouchard. Your friend is waiting in your room.”
Jonathan stopped. He turned towards the young man who looked at him blankly, a smile on his face which seemed almost frozen in place.
“What did you say?”
“Welcome back, Mr Bouchard. Your friend is waiting in your room.”
“What friend?” Jonathan asked.
The desk clerk didn’t reply. The smile faded from his features and he blinked, shaking his head as if he had just woken from a dream.
“What the…” He noticed Jonathan. “Good evening, sir, what can I do for you?”
“Nothing,” Jonathan said quietly, “I’m alright. Thank you.”
Jonathan noticed the man in the suit who was now blocking the exit of the hotel. He just stood there, silently.
Jonathan continued towards the lifts, looking over one last time towards the clerk who busied himself with some papers and didn’t pay any attention to him anymore. The lift door closed and Jonathan leaned against the wall. His heart was beating faster. He knew what this meant and he had hoped - against all better judgment - that he was finally free of her.
The lift doors opened and he emerged into the hallway. His feet sank into the thick carpet as he made his way along the rows of nondescript grey doors. He had been a fool to think that this would have been the end of it. The Shadow Queen didn’t let go once she had you in her grasp. Her reputation was just as ominous as her moniker. The head of the supernatural underworld of London, a powerful woman who was just as elusive as she was ruthless. No one knew who she was, not even people who had been in her presence. A strange power caused everyone to forget her face just moments after she left the room. Her name remained, though, and it was whispered in every dark corner of the city.
The key card already in hand, he stopped. The urge to flee became overwhelming. Just out of this hotel, out of this city. He looked over his shoulder and found someone standing silently at the other end of the hallway. The man watched him with an empty expression. Another one stood between him and the lift.
Jonathan sighed and ran the key card over the lock. The light switched from red to green and he pushed the door open.
A young man with short black hair and bright blue eyes sat in the chair by the window. His grey suit was understated, classic but definitely very expensive. He smiled as Jonathan entered and put his glass of orange juice on the table next to him.
“I ordered this and had it put on your bill. I hope you don’t mind.”
Jonathan remained by the door and watched the stranger’s every move. His only escape would be the windowless bathroom. Not much of a plan.
“So… am I going to have an accident? Or will they find me in the bathtub with my wrists slit?” he asked sarcastically, trying to mask his fear.
“I’m not here to kill you, Mr Bouchard, no need to be so tense.”
“Excuse me if I don’t trust the lackeys of the Shadow Queen.”
He chuckled. “Well, be it as it may, I’m here to congratulate you on behalf of the Shadow Queen. She sends her regards and appreciates that you did keep your word and haven’t mentioned her involvement in this most unfortunate affair.”
Most unfortunate affair. Jonathan clenched his fists again. Is that what it was to her? Unfortunate. Forcing a group of young street witches into a dangerous ritual just because of a mistake made years ago and then sweeping it under the rug as an unfortunate affair. They were only collateral damage to her. Jonathan included. He was sure that he would be dead by now had he not agreed to play along with her little charade.
It had been her people who had found him even before the authorities arrived. He had been stumbling around, disoriented, bleeding, the Void Shard clenched so tightly in his hand that the Queen’s men had almost broken his fingers to get it out.
He couldn’t remember much else until the visit that he received at the hospital, the same nameless man who sat in front of him now, offering him a way out of all of this for the simple price of keeping his mouth shut. An offer that he couldn’t refuse.
“I said I wouldn’t-”
“You did and we provided you with legal assistance. However, please don’t take offence when I say that we didn’t have absolute faith in your loyalty. We were pleasantly surprised when Mr Carter filled us in.”
“So much for client confidentiality.”
“You are not this naive, Mr Bouchard.”
He wasn’t. Jonathan had been fully aware of the fact that every word he said would end up in the Shadow Queen’s ear. Which had made the past weeks even more torturous.
“What does she want now?” he said, bracing himself.
“Nothing,” the man said, smiling again, “this situation has been resolved most satisfactory with your acquittal. As Mr Carter might have already suggested, the Queen would like you to, shall we say, take a long vacation. You did gain a bit of a reputation.”
Jonathan snorted. “Get the fuck out of town, she means.”
“However,” the man continued, completely ignoring Jonathan’s remark, “Mr Carter has informed us about your fragile state. He thinks that you are plagued by a sense of guilt over what happened.”
“Are you kidding me?”
The man put a piece of paper on the table before standing up and straightening his suit. He came towards Jonathan who needed all the strength that he had left to force himself not to flinch.
“Consider this a final gift of the Queen,” he said as he stood directly in front of Jonathan, “take it or leave it but we expect you to be gone by the end of the week. The treatment that we suggest has been paid in full.”
He didn’t reply. Instead, he just put his hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and Jonathan took a step aside almost robotically. He gave the man enough space to open the door and leave his room. Then, finally alone, he sank against the wall, trying to calm down enough so that his hands would stop shaking.
He walked over to the table and picked up the piece of paper. There was a phone number on it and written below: “Mr Davies. Call him and say “I don’t feel like myself.” when he answers the phone. He will explain everything else.”
Jonathan sat down on the simple bed and stared at the phone on the nightstand.
“You’re sure about this? This is the last time that I am asking. One word and we can call this off.”
Jonathan hesitated for a moment. Was he really willing to go through with this? He had been going over this question a thousand times in his head. On the tube on the way here, during the short walk from Kew Gardens station to his destination. Even as he rang the doorbell of the beautiful suburban house in Victorian style, one of the many that lined the clean streets of the borough, he still wasn't sure.
Kew was a different world from what he was used to. A world of expensive detached and semi-detached houses, white fences and carefully trimmed hedges and a quaint centre called “Kew Village” with nothing but fancy restaurants, cafés and art galleries, everything in walking distance of Kew Gardens, the sprawling botanical garden. A place he hadn’t been to even though, ironically enough, he and Benjamin had talked about going what felt like a thousand times.
The house belonged to Mr and Mrs Davies, a sweet elderly couple. Mrs Davies had served him tea and biscuits in the sitting room and Jonathan had marveled at the incredible amount of kitsch that she had gathered here. He had never seen such an impressive collection of commemorative plates before. All neatly fitted to the wall and free of dust. The Royal Family staring down on him lifelessly from dozens and dozens of plates.
Mr Davies was just as unassuming as his wife. A short and slightly chubby man in his late 60s with thick glasses and deeply white hair. His cardigan was covered in fur from the cats which prowled the house. Jonathan counted at least four of them.
He had wondered if they knew who he was and when he finally asked that question, Mr Davies had waved him off and told him that he didn’t read the papers these days, too much rubbish. And he also didn’t care as long as he got his money.
Jonathan had politely declined more tea and biscuits and Mr Davies had asked him to accompany him into the basement where he had his laboratory.
The sight of the surgical chair had returned Jonathan’s doubts which had shortly been drowned in tea and slightly sandy biscuits.
“The straps are necessary, I’m afraid. It’s quite painful.”
And there he was. Strapped into the chair, a part of his hair shaved off, even though he would be able to grow that back easily with his magic.
“And you’re giving me the absolute assurance that this is going to work? I’m not going to end up a vegetable?”
“Poppycock, young man, I have extracted a lot of feelings in my time and never had any complaints. I assure you, the procedure will be successful.”
Mr Davies looked up from the surgical instruments that he was currently arranging. He seemed confused by Jonathan’s question for a moment, but then he nodded, cheerfully.
Jonathan sank back into the chair and stared at the ceiling. Was that… noise insulation? The basement was soundproof.
“The neighbours complained about the screams,” Mr Davies said, following Jonathan’s eyes. “It was such a kerfuffle to get this seamless.”
“I can imagine,” Jonathan said, swallowing hard, “okay.” He took a deep breath. “I’m ready. Let’s do this.”
Jonathan stood by the Thames and looked out onto the murky waters of the river. The aorta of London, the lifeblood that ran through the city and had been here from the start. Changed by the inhabitants over the centuries, and yet never really changing. So many secrets were lost to this river, never to be found again.
It was a sunny afternoon. The embankment was busy with tourists and soon, when the day's work was done, with the Londoners who came here for a bit of respite from the city. He loved and hated this city, conflicting feelings that were always there beneath the surface. London was his home, it had always been, but he hated the city for how it had treated him. Though, maybe Callista was right. Maybe he had squandered the chances that had been given to him.
Would he have been happier living with Aunt Miranda and Uncle Bernard? A nice and uneventful life in Putney, studying at the Coven and maybe becoming a historian like Aunt Miranda. Or having Uncle Bernard use his connections to find him a position at the bank where he was working.
Neither of them had been at his trial. There was no reason for them to be there. He had asked to be emancipated from them soon after he had been kicked out of the Coven and they had happily obliged.
There had been no connection between them, if Jonathan was honest. He hadn’t fit in with Miranda’s and Bernard’s little world and he never would have. It was futile to think about such nonsense now.
The sunlight reflected off the small bottle in his fingers. Inside, a bit of crimson liquid sloshed ominously. Such a small amount and so much pain as Mr Davies had removed it from him. Now he understood the sound-proof basement. His throat was still sore from the screams. The procedure was impossible to perform when the patient was unconscious, Mr Davies had explained. Of course, it was. It was also illegal, but that part didn’t bother Jonathan at all.
His guilt and sadness. Not all of it, that was impossible and probably all the better for it. The ability to create sociopaths incapable of feeling guilt seemed like a very bad idea. It was just this part of him, a tiny fraction of his being but one which had so much weight. By removing this particular puzzle piece of his emotions, Mr Davies had explained, he would create a picture that could never be whole. One piece was missing and it would always be, no matter what.
He shook the bottle and the liquid sloshed a little more violently. The guilt about the deaths of his friends. All the survivor’s guilt. The painful grief about the death of Benjamin. All in there. Just a little bit of crimson liquid.
Jonathan smiled. He felt reborn. The memory was still there. He knew that he had loved Ben with all his heart but other than that, nothing. Just nothing. When he thought about the botched ritual, he felt absolutely nothing. And according to Mr Davies, he would never be able to feel anything again when it came to this piece of the puzzle that was now missing. An emptiness that couldn’t be filled because there was no piece that would fit.
Mr Davies had given him his feelings to do with it what he wanted. It was safely bottled up in this vial. Reclaiming it was as easy as drinking the content. Why he would want that, though, after going through all this kerfuffle to be rid of it, well that was beyond good old Mr Davies. However, he wanted Jonathan to have the opportunity, should he wish so.
Or he could dispose of it. Jonathan looked up from the bottle and to the dark water of the Thames. He could just toss it into the river and be done with it. He couldn’t stay much longer or he would miss his train at St Pancras.
He just had to throw it into the river.
It seemed so easy and yet he couldn’t do it. Jonathan sighed and shook his head, slipping the bottle back into his duffle bag before shouldering it and heading off towards the tube. Paris was waiting for him. A new city and a new life. Why Paris? Because it was as good as any other city that wasn’t London.
The End (for now...)
Code Names (London Nights Short Story)
Ooh ich habe es am Stück gelesen, fast atemlos, und ich bin platt. Dann hatte er also schon mal mit der Shadow Queen zu tun gehabt! Und Himmel, er muß schon etwas Dummes angestellt haben, um nachher in ihrer Schuld zu stehen und so etwas Gefährliches zu tun.
Und sich die Emotionen entfernen zu lassen ... ich kann verstehen, warum er es gemacht hat, aber ich könnte mir vorstellen, daß er, falls sich noch etwas Schreckliches in seinem leben ereignen würde, es nochmal tun würde, und das scheint mir nicht sehr gesund.
Klasse geschrieben - Ich liebe es!
Es war nicht seine Schuld, das macht es sogar noch trauriger. Jess, jemand aus seinem Coven, hatte die dumme Idee etwas zu stehlen, dass sich als der Besitz der Shadow Queen herausstellte. Sie hat ihnen "vergeben", aber der Coven musste dafür später dieses Ritual durchführen, was fürchterlich schief gelaufen ist. Und Jon bezahlt nun den Preis und steht als der Schuldige da, damit sie ihm aus der Patsche hilft.
Dieser Moment verändert Jon ziemlich. Ben war die positive Kraft in seinem Leben. Quasi der Weg auf die gute Seite. Diese Ereignisse sind der Start von Jons krimineller Karriere.
I finally got the chance to read this uninterrupted, so I read it three times to soak in the whole story and make sure I didn't miss anything.
First of all, I don't think I've encountered a single Witch's Council I've liked. The one in A Discovery of Witches is corrupt to the core, the one in the Dresden Files series of books holds a vice-like grip over the whole Witch Community but still doesn't realise its grasp is too wide and much slips through, and yours... I get a taste of the same kind of attitude and self-importance as I get when I watch parliamentarians on the news. No, the street witches are where the real stories are to be had!
If I'm reading this right, the Shadow Queen holds a position in London similar to Syd in Paris? Right now I'm imagining an encounter between them and the first thing that comes to mind is Syd throwing so much shade at the Shadow Queen's minions' fashion choices. I also imagine such an encounter would end with the Shadow Queen being on the receiving end of a bitch-slap. Or maybe that's just me being wishful?
I suppose Mr Davies is just doing his job, providing a service, albeit illegally, to those who need it. Part of me wanted to frown at Jonathan for taking that route and allowing the guilt to be extracted. Another part of me was thinking "Do you REALLY want to trust him? He has a wife who serves sandy biscuits, tea, and owns four cats! That's a sure sign of danger!" But then, when Jonathan kept the vial of his guilt... in my eyes he redeemed himself. I think, at that time, the guilt was going to consume him and lead him to an early grave. Maybe he just needed time to heal and grow stronger so that, later down the line, he can take that guilt back into himself and face it head-on? Maybe he does just that, or maybe the vial is still sitting on a dresser or is tucked away in the back of a drawer, forgotten. I don't know, but the whole thing as a slice of an origin story gripped me completely. If that was a section from a novel, I would read the hell out of it, buy the Audio book version, and be watching out for the next book in the series.
You really have a gift for creating powerful and memorable characters... I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially Mr. Davies
Poor old Jonathan, one just wants to hug him - although he would probably not like that very much!
Wow, that means so much to me Knowing Jon, he would like the hug... and then take it further He wasn't really supposed to be the main character anymore but he has turned into a very layered, very complicated person who drives a lot of the plots for the others and I'm really happy with that development. Jon has been around in one form or another for over 10 years now but this is where the character really was supposed to go