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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69. Chapter 68

A few more years passed by, and whilst Dmitri grew into a proud boy, and Jasmine grew into an adorable beautiful little girl, Johnathon continued to grow into a father to both of them. With Erebus out of things to destroy, he seemed to disappear, and with him, the troubles that his promise had created, but Johnathon knew better than to assume he was done with his revenge. As life gradually settled down, Johnathon grew closer to his other allies, and even decided to host a new year's eve party.

31/12/2010:

The houseboat had never been busier. Normally the large space was occupied by three people and a bunch of dusty furniture, but on that night, it was bursting with activity. Unsure of who to invite to his little fling, Johnathon had entrusted the job of writing the invites to Eloise, who had invited what seemed like the entire soul community. Leo was there, now officially a full-grown man in his forties, his mother, father, and aunt were all long gone, but he’d flourished since then, the wild camps were thriving. Felicity was there too, alongside Angelica who was keeping busy fighting with Dmitri (as per usual). Peter was also there, and surprisingly wasn’t clinging to Eloise like a lost child, he’d become his own person over the years. The rest of the crowd was filled with other important figures, deputies, campaigners, and a few people who were simply friends too. However status was forgotten that evening, as they all celebrated the dawn of a new year together.

“It’s a great party,” Leo came up beside him, “You’ve outdone yourself.”

“Thank you.” Johnathon replied stiffly, not quite knowing how to respond.

“I still remember the party back in 1972, you know, the one Eloise hosted.” Leo recalled, filling up his glass as he did so.

“Yes, it was a big night.” Johnathon nodded, images flashing before him. It was the night Eloise’s had chosen the first set of leaders, the night he’d announced his love for Adele, and the night she’d been attacked by Erebus because of it.

“You can say that again…” Leo trailed off, “Don’t you miss those sort of nights though? Nowadays the politics are so much more simple, everything’s been figured out, I’m a little bored.”

“I’m not.” Johnathon chuckled, “My oldest friend is trying to ruin my son’s life and murder my niece.”

“Yes, well, I suppose you do have a lot on your plate. I almost wish I had that sort of family drama, I mean, I don’t want my friend to be out to kill anyone, but all my family are gone, and I’m feeling a little off without their arguments and rivalries.” Leo sighed. Johnathon turned to look at him, finally understanding what he was saying. Leo’s family were all gone, his elders dead, and his cousin missing. Leo was a pack animal without his pack.

“Maybe Gael will come back one day?” Johnathon suggested, his tone unable to convince either of them that he mean what he was saying.

“I used to think that, or at least that I owed it to him to keep waiting, but I’ve accepted that he’s gone. I hurt Gael’s pride, he may only be a half breed, but he still has the pride of a Wild Soul, and I can tell he’ll never forgive me for what I did, wherever he is now.” Leo shook his head, “Bravery, serenity, and pride...they’re what makes up the instinct of a Wild Soul, and Gael...he’s all instinct.”

“Well at least don’t blame yourself.” Johnathon urged him, trying to lighten the mood, which had taken a dismal turn. Upon hearing this, Leo let out a small, reserved laugh. “What’s so funny?”

“It’s just...what do you know about blame?” Leo took care to phrase his explanation carefully, hiding a rather deep comment behind a hesitant phrasing and a casual tone.

“I suppose you’re right.” Johnathon gave in, topping up his own drink.

“He might not know about blame, but I do.” Dmitri piped up, walking over to them. He’d been lurking in the corner, presumably hiding from Angelica, unable to stop himself from listening in to their conversation.

“What have I told you about eavesdropping?” Johnathon sighed.

“Ah, let him be, boys will be boys.” Leo quickly forgave him, kneeling down to be at his level. “What do you mean Dmitri?”

“I blame myself for things,” Dmitri shrugged, “Most of the time for little things like dropping plate, but sometimes for big things too.”

“What sort of big things? Surely I little boy like you can’t have done anything really bad?” Leo played with his hair, giving Dmitri all the kind attention his nine-year-old mind desired. “Mind you, I hear your father wasn’t exactly an angel when he was nine…” Dmitri giggled at this, growing an undoubtable fondness towards Leo.

“No, no, nothing like that,” he laughed, “Sometimes I blame myself for what happened to mummy.”

“Well that’s not your fault-”

“I know that, she told me.” Dmitri interrupted him, eager to make it clear that he wasn’t some crybaby.

“How did she tell you? Isn’t she, you know…?” Leo tread carefully, after all, Johnathon was still standing beside him.

“She left me a note, here, look.” Dmitri retrieved the piece of paper out of his pocket, but before Leo had a chance to look Johnathon snatched it out of his hands.

“Dmitri, I thought I told you to keep this locked away hidden in your room.” He confronted him.

“Yes, but tonight I wanted it on me, it makes me feel safe, like she’s here with me.” Dmitri tried to explain, failing to see what he’d done wrong. Johnathon sighed, taking his sons hand in his own.

“Come on, let’s go put this back where it belongs.” He smiled at him, finding his son’s big benevolent heart absolutely beautiful. Together, they flashed up to his room, and Johnathon got a chair whilst Dmitri sat patiently on the end of his bed. “Dmitri, do you know what this is?” Johnathon held the letter up to the light to make it clear what he was talking about.

“It’s the letter mummy left me.” Dmitri replied plainly.

“And what else?” Johnathon persuaded his point, trying to get his son to see the true worth of the piece of paper.

“What do you mean?” Dmitri didn’t at all understand what was going on. “Mummy wrote me a letter, and that’s it. What more is there to it?”

“There’s a lot more to it.” Johnathon argued, “Do you know who gave you that letter?”

“You did.” Dmitri replied honestly, raising his eyebrows and looking at his father as if he had amnesia.

“Do you know who gave me the letter before that?” Johnathon rephrased the question, digging deeper.

“Mummy?” Dmitri guessed.

“No, Erebus. Erebus gave me that letter the day you were born. Mummy had given it to him for safe-keeping, back when we were all sort-of friends, and when she died, and you survived, he gave it to me to hand over to you.” Johnathon corrected him, but Dmitri was still pretty clueless as to what it all meant, his mouth hung in an ‘o’ shape below his nose.

“...So? Why does that mean I can’t show people this letter?”

“Because that letter is special, it is the last thing you have left of your mother. Erebus has killed her relatives, destroyed her home, and brutally broken any possible link you could have to her...except that letter. That letter keeps her with you, and he was the one who handed it to me the day you were born, he’s the reason it now lays in you palm...and he has to live with that every day of his life. He has to live with the fact that the one thing he can’t get his hands on, the one thing that gives you strength, the one thing that he will never destroy, he played a part in giving it to you. To Erebus, that is torture, and he deserves to suffer after what he’s done to us.” Johnathon laid it all out to him, putting it all into perspective. Every word of what he said was true, it was torture for Erebus to live with the fact that he was the one to hand over the letter to Johnathon that day at the hospital, and one Johnathon hoped kept him awake at night.

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