Guiltless

On the 11th of January 1937 Johnathon Ignes is born. He is a suitable weight, in good health...but different from all the other babies in the ward, because he is born immune to guilt. 2 years and 235 days later, worldwide war breaks out.
Sent away as an evacuee, Johnathon grows up away from his mother, and meets Erebus, a cheeky paperboy. Erebus too, has no guilt, and under his influence, Johnathon grows up into a monster.
This is the story of how that monster, became a leader.
- The prequel to 'Souls' (but will make sense if you haven't read it) -

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44. Chapter 43

The first person Johnathon and Adele met when they walked through the door was Hannah, who was walking around with a four year old Leo in her arms. When she saw him, and Adele, she walked over, putting Leo down.

“Hello Johnathon,” she smiled genuinely, “Erebus told us you and Adele were on your way. Is this her?”

“Yes, it is” Adele answered on her own behalf, “Hi, I’m Adele”. She held out her hand, and Hannah took it.

“I’m Hannah, Tao’s wife” she introduced herself.

“Tao...the grumpy- I mean, Kris’s brother” Adele fumbled, her nerves causing her to recall people by Johnathon’s opinion and not his knowledge. “Sorry.” Adele winced, biting her lip.

“It’s alright, I know Tao can be a little cold at times.” Hannah nodded her head understandingly, “But so can Johnathon. It is a good thing we know how to warm them up, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is” Adele agreed, relieved that she had not offended Hannah. “Who is this?” She gestured to Leo, who was tugging on his mother’s skirt.

“This is Leo, my son” Hannah gave him a light shove forwards.

“Hi there Leo,” Adele knelt down to speak to him, “Aren’t you a tall boy?” Leo grinned, glad for the complement.

“Yes” he giggled, embracing Adele in an unexpected hug. Whilst Johnathon would have shoved him off, Adele let rubbed his back gently, letting him enjoy the moment. After that Hannah and Leo moved on, leaving Johnathon and Adele alone again.

“You’re good with children” Johnathon noted. Adele blushed, seeming more relaxed now she’d gotten one introduction out of the way. They wandered around, settling into the atmosphere.

Adele was taken aback by the environment. She found the architecture clever and stunningly simple, and she smelt practically every flower she walked past, claiming they ‘smelt better’ than in Cantumville. She seemed more at home there than Johnathon did. As more and more people approached them, she grew more and more confident. She had such a long conversation with Felicity that Johnathon left her to it for a while.

“Enjoying yourselves?” Adele was just admiring the treehouses when Kris came up behind them. They both turned around, and Johnathon sighed.

“Yes, thank you” he spoke half-heartedly, “Now, if you excuse us…”

“Johnathon, wait,” Adele stopped him, “Won’t you introduce us?”

“Kris, Adele. Adele, Kris.” Johnathon kept it brief.

“So this is Adele!” Kris grinned, speaking as though he did not already know, which he did, “How nice to finally meet you”.

“You too,” Adele gave him a quick hug, “I’ve heard a lot about this place. It’s nice to finally see it for myself.”

“Lot’s of people find it interesting” Kris nodded.

“It’s beautiful,” Adele gestured to her surroundings as she spoke, “I can’t quite believe it’s real”.

“I assure you it is,” Kris chuckled, “Oh! Johnathon, Eloise wants to see you”. Kris announced.

“Oh brilliant” Johnathon rolled his eyes.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Adele whilst you chat with her. She’s in the first bedroom to your left upstairs.” Kris informed him.

“I’ll be back soon” Johnathon promised Adele.

“Play nice” was her reply. Johnathon didn’t say anything back, instead he followed Kris’s instructions.

When he entered the room Eloise was gazing out of the window, but she spun around when she heard him step inside. Her expression was torn and deliberative, which wasn’t a good sign.

“Before you start, I would like to point out that you never told me not to bring Adele. Also, everyone seems to like her so far, she hasn’t caused any trouble! Besides…”

“Johnathon, this isn’t about Adele” Eloise interrupted him, approaching him slowly.

“Then what is this about?” Johnathon asked, stepping forward.

“You arrived late,” Eloise reminded him, “You missed my first announcement.” When she didn’t continue, Johnathon got impatient.

“...Which was?” He pressured her to speak on. Eloise looked down at her feet.

“There’s been a new discovery,” she revealed, “A new type of Soul. We’re calling them Knowlegde Souls. They never forget anything, and have an impulsive desire to know everything.”

“That sounds like the prediction you made before, about the Wild and Songbird Souls combining.” Johnathon realised.

“Yes, it seems my diagram was correct” Eloise was still looking away from him.

“Why are you so dismal? Surely this is good news?” Johnathon couldn’t understand which such an optimistic discovery had caused Eloise to suffer such a huge wave of sadness.

“I made this discovery when I went to check up on my family. My sister Amelia’s son, Peter, is four now. I looked into him, and I saw his Soul. When I realised he was something new, I looked around, and found more. I knew I couldn’t just leave him to be raised by normals, I knew that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I also knew I couldn’t reveal who I was. So I approached them, keeping who I was a secret. I told them I was the Just Soul, and that I wanted to help him. You may notice that it is a little crowded around here tonight, and that isn’t just because this is a home to many Wild Souls, it’s also because I invited a lot of the new Knowledge Souls I’ve found, Peter along with them. Amelia came too, of course. I’m in the same house as my sister, and she has no idea who I am.” Eloise’s voice cracked at the end as she began to cry. Johnathon could only imagine how Eloise felt. To be so close to her family, and yet so far. To have to advise and help her nephew, but as his leader, not his aunt.

Johnathon stood up suddenly, an infectious solution inside his mind. He took Eloise by the arm and began dragging her back downstairs.

“What are you…?”

“Trust me” Johnathon cut her off. To his surprise, she did. She let him lead her back into the main room. He searched around for someone baring resemblance to Eloise, and stormed over to a short blonde woman and her young son.

“Eloise, who is this?” Amelia seemed a little shocked by their intrusion.

“This is Johnathon Ignes” Eloise told her, trying to hide all the emotion in her voice and expression. “What are you doing?” She whispered to Johnathon.

“You may have to do the right thing, but I don’t” Johnathon murmured back. “Hello, it’s Amelia, isn’t it?” He addressed Eloise’s sister again.

“...Yes,” Amelia confirmed, “It’s nice to meet you” she held out her hand. Johnathon shook it briskly, trying to speed things up.

“Long story short, this lady standing next to me isn’t only Eloise, the Just Soul, and leader of us all. She’s also your long long sister, and your son Peter’s aunt. Only she can’t tell you because it’s not the right thing to do, so I’m being the messenger.” Amelia’s eyes widened, she was gobsmacked. She looked at Eloise, and you could tell she was starting to see it, and wonder how she’d missed it. Eloise met her gaze, suddenly very shy.

Johnathon walked away after that, leaving them to catch up. He found Adele talking to Rebecca and Gael, all three of them were laughing away. Gael had grown a lot since he’d last seen him, he was nine years old. His hair was still short, but it did have distinctly wavy locks. He was holding a small leather pouch full of soil, taking nutrients from it in the same way a plant would. It was so normal to him, he did it without thinking, but Johnathon could tell Adele found it odd, and kept on looking back at the bag.

“...so then I told him to man up and just do it. Oh, hello Johnathon.” Rebecca noticed his arrival. Adele turned around, kissing his cheek as he came over.

“I missed you” she confessed.

“I was doing a favour for a friend,” he informed her, “Hello Rebecca, how are you?” He turned to her.

“Good, good” she chuckled, “And you?”

“I’m doing fine.” he assured her, “Could I have Adele back for a minute or two?”

“Of course” Rebecca waved her hand as if to say go, go! Johnathon took Adele over into a dark corner, and began to kiss her neck.

“Your settling in well” he spoke into her right ear.

“You think so?” She didn’t seem so sure.

“I know so,” Johnathon wrapped his hands around her waist, “You’re a benevolent angel, and everyone can tell that after spending a just few seconds at your side”.Adele rested her head on his shoulder, glad for the reassurance. Johnathon felt the warmth of her body against his, and he didn’t want to let go.

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