I hadn't seen Aunt Midnight all day. She was locked up in her room, refusing to leave at any moment for anything. She didn't come down to eat, or watch us, or even check when I purposefully lit a barrel of gunpowder. Eomer cried for a full thirty minutes out of hunger, but she wouldn't come down to feed him, so we had to make other arrangements. Everyone else was quite distraught as well. We'd had a lot of death-scares in the family, a lot of near-death experiences as well - but never an actual death.
Even writing this... It feels unreal - like it didn't really happen - a hazy nightmare that I just can't escape. But the stinging high up in my nose and the tears on my face... Those are real. Uncle Thomas was gone. For real.
It was only yesterday that I was picking flowers with him... Could that be right? Could that be true? It feels like an eternity ago.
Now I'll be picking flowers for a whole different reason.
I can't even imagine what Aunt Midnight must be feeling.
Uncle Thomas had always said that Aunt Midnight always expected the worst in order to prepare for it - but had she expected this? At all? How can anyone prepare for this? Maybe if he had been terminally ill for a long time, she could have. But an out-of-nowhere murder? Aunt Midnight would be more than sad and distraught.
She would be angry, enraged.
Aldrin and Bex returned from their expedition to Tortuga, with the conquistador, and Aldrin seemed to be in shock. He went to see his sisters and his daughter immediately, completely ignoring the rest of us. He and I spent so much of our time just sitting outside of Aunt Midnight's room, knocking on the door at regular intervals, hoping that she'd open up.
She did eventually.
Aunt Midnight hugged her son and buried her head in the crook of his neck, crying in streams. They stayed this way for a while, not saying anything.
“Lock the gates, bar the doors. Don't let anyone leave this house,” she told him eventually.
Aldrin looked at me and I understood.
“I'll do it,” I said.
I was about to leave them, Aldrin was telling Aunt Midnight to sit down.
“Kenny doesn't know, Aldrin, please. Go and do it,” Aunt Midnight said.
“Aunt Midnight, I know how to lock a door!” I protested.
Aldrin gave his mother a look, but nodded and went off to do the chore. I sat next to her on the floor and leaned my head on her shoulder.
“I know it probably doesn't mean much, but I'm really sorry, Aunt Midnight,” I mumbled.
She closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. Tears dripped down the side of her face and she choked up in sobs. Her hands went to her face and hid it from view.
“Aunt Midnight?” I said.
“I can't do this,” she said, “How am I going to do this?”
I didn't say anything, not understanding what she meant.
“Everything... I have nothing here.”
“Don't say that, Aunt Midnight. You have us.”
“No. I had you. We had you. I don't have anything!”
“No!” she barked, “I can't... There's just... How...?”
“Mum,” came Aldrin's voice. He hurried down the corridor, picked her up and wrapped his arms around his mother once more, “Mum, it's alright. Calm down.”
“Calm? How can I be calm!” Aunt Midnight retorted, pushing him away and holding her head, “Your father was murdered in this house! Don't you understand that? Don't you know what that means? How can I be calm!” she shook and held her upper arms, shaking her head. She sobbed, “There isn't even a body. His form just... crumbled to dust.”
“Mum...” Aldrin said.
“I can't do this anymore!”
Aldrin reached out to hold her, but she shook him off.
Aunt Midnight went back into her bedroom and placed her hands on her desk.
She sniffed, “I'm going back to Normandy.”
“What?” Aldrin replied.
“I have to.”
“Mum, no. What about us? What about the Manor?”
“I'm leaving it to you. All of it, to all of you.”
“Mum, Dad would have wanted you to stay here! Where you're safe from... freaking war!”
“Aldrin, I have to do this.”
“You can't leave us at a time like this!” Aldrin shouted. He stepped forward, trying to regulate his breathing, “I know, Mum. I know and I can see you aren't taking this well. But you have to stop freaking out. It's not safe for you to go, not at a time like this. I know this is hard, but-”
“You have no idea what I'm going through!” Aunt Midnight yelled.
“No, Aldrin!” she held her head, “You don't understand!”
“What!” Aldrin yelled back, “What don't I understand, Mum! What haven't you told me!”
“What are you talking about!”
“Who are you! Because I know for sure that my mother wouldn't run away in a circumstance like this!”
“You don't know your mother!”
Aldrin emitted a deep-throated growl, “How can you even think of leaving!” he grasped Aunt Midnight's arms and pushed her back, “Have you even considered what we might be going through after hearing this? Or is that just something else you don't do?”
Aunt Midnight gasped as Aldrin's claws sunk into her flesh, “Let me go, Aldrin,” she warned, quietly.
Aldrin snarled and snapped his jaws, “I can't believe you've been keeping the wool over our eyes all these years!”
Aunt Midnight grappled with him. She didn't say anything. I felt the need to step in, but I didn't know what to do exactly. They were locked in their physical argument and stepping in would just worsen things from the looks of it.
“Say something!” Aldrin demanded, shaking her.
“Fuck you, Aldrin,” Aunt Midnight said through her teeth.
Aldrin roared and swung her into a window. I cried out in shock as the glass broke around her. Aldrin made to leap at her, but Aunt Midnight raised her leg and vaulted him just over her. I raced to the window to help her out - the several cuts marking her face and arms weeping blood - but she dropped down. Aldrin was on all fours, his hairs standing on end and his entire body poised for a fight.
What should I do now?
I watched as Aunt Midnight observed him carefully as he circled around her, waiting to pounce.
“Stop playing around!” she said, “If you want to end this, end it!”
He snarled and leapt at her. Aunt Midnight didn't even try to move out of the way and took the full force of his pounce. Her head rocked back and I screamed for help. I climbed down.
“Aldrin, stop this! Are you crazy?” I yelled.
“Kenny, get away!” Aunt Midnight said, as Aldrin turned to bark at me.
“He's going to kill you!”
Aunt Midnight spat in Aldrin's face. He made to bite her shoulder, but she held his head and pushed it away, “That's my problem. Not yours!” she pressed her legs against his stomach and threw him off.
He roared and snapped his jaws.
“You've both gone mad!” I screamed.
Aunt Midnight didn't reply. She picked up a stone and tossed it in Aldrin's direction and then took off - climbing up and over the gate and into a thick of trees, while Aldrin bounded after her.