I heard the voice, singing to me softly in a language I vaguely recognized, before I saw who it belonged to. At first, I didn't care. I only wanted to lay comfortably in the darkness with the voice to soothe all of my worries, an unseen hand gently caressing my hair.
“To fengári eínai méchri eisódous.
Ta chrysá astéria lámpoun
fo̱teiná ston ouranó kai safí̱s.
To dásos eínai skoteinó kai sio̱pi̱ló
kai af̱xánetai apó ta livádia
i̱ ypérochi̱ lef̱kí̱ omíchli̱.”
The lyrics flowed back to me, memories rising from my childhood. I remembered sitting on the floor of our house in Gerado during the winter, my mother singing to me as she combed through my hair.
“To fengári eínai méchri eisódous. (The moon has risen).
Ta chrysá astéria lámpoun (The golden stars shine)
Fo̱teiná ston ouranó kai safí̱s. (Bright in the sky and clear.)
To dásos eínai skoteinó kai sio̱pi̱ló (The forest is dark and silent)
Kai af̱xánetai apó ta livádia (And is rising from the meadows)
i̱ ypérochi̱ lef̱kí̱ omíchli̱. (The white mist wonderful.)”
I sat at my mother's feet, leaning back against her knees from where she had reclined in our standard issue armchair. The comb she held untangled the knots in my hair and she tamed the wild curls in a braid when she finished.
“Where's that song from, Mom?”
By then, I had turned to face her, my feet tucked beneath me to keep them warm. She had a distant look in her eyes, almost dreamlike. It appeared as if she was remembering a long forgotten memory that gave her joy.
“I learned that song when I was a little girl, Laurali, maybe a few years older than you are now. It originated in Germany, a country in Europe, but I was taught it, translated into my first language, by my parents back home in the country where I lived.”
I frowned in confusion. “If it came from Europe, how did you learn it?”
My mother smiled at a fond memory. “I grew up in another country in Europe called Greece. The Grigori's, me, you and Samuel, all have Greek blood running through our veins. Your father was born in another country in Europe called England but his family decided to live in Greece for work reasons when he was very young, the same age as me. He and his parents taught me the song.”
I furrowed my brow and began contemplating that fact. At that time, I was too young to have learned anything about the world besides its spherical shape. I remembered thinking that our small but sprawling town of Gerado would be too big for me to explore all of, let alone their being other countries.
Seeing that I was confused, my mother leaned forward in her chair and beckoned for me to come closer. Obediently, I shuffled forward, her piercing blue eyes locking on my dully colored ones, until I could feel the rough material of her dress brush my bare knees, revealed from where my skirt rode up. She pushed a strand of my thick hair back and whispered something in my ear.
“To Na fovátai eínai Na gno̱rízoume tous fóvous sas. Óntas énas machi̱tí̱s eínai Na gno̱rízoun ti̱ dýnamí̱ sas. Óntas énas prostáti̱s eínai Na gno̱rízoume ti̱n kardiá sas. In English, it translates to 'Being afraid is to know your fears. Being a fighter is to know your strength. Being a protector is to know your heart'.”
I smiled subtly to myself as my mother raised herself out of the chair and left the room. Being afraid... it did involve knowing what you were afraid of. You did have to know your strength if you were a fighter. To protect, there had to be something in your heart that you desperately wanted to keep safe.
Back then, I didn't realize how much importance those words would have to me.
“Póso akóma o kósmos sti̱rízetai, (How still the world rests,)
Sto lykófo̱s gýro̱ apó ton apokleíei, (In twilight around him excludes,)
Tóso í̱rema kai ómorfa! (So peaceful and so beautiful!)
Éna í̱sycho do̱mátio gia ýpno, (A quiet room for sleeping,)
I̱ enydáto̱si̱ sti̱ lí̱thi̱ (Soaking into oblivion)
I̱ i̱méra tou provlí̱matos kai ni̱fália frontída. (the day of trouble and sober care.)”
The voice was still singing when I dragged myself out of my deep slumber, a burning pain on my right cheek, the left one if anyone looked at me. I put my hand against it and it came away smeared with blood. Wincing, I smeared the blood onto my t-shirt and struggled to sit up.
At first, I thought the room was painted white. That was when I saw the eyes.
The walls were painted white, masked with a silver eye design that had been inked on Kaylin's lower back and on the side of her calf. I felt as if each one was watching me as clambered off of the metal table I had been laid on, covered in a pale blue papery sheet. My blood stained a patch of the size of my hand onto the sheet.
He was sat beside me.
Hair as black as ink, swept back from his forehead and cut shorter at the sides. Coal gray eyes, framed with long dark lashes and thick but elegantly shaped eyebrows. Slender nose and full lips. Sharply angled cheek bones. Skin like porcelain china. His toned biceps were revealed by a sleeveless black vest. There was a faint scar on his cheek but I struggled to distinguish the exact shape and size of it. A small black outline of an eye and a sword on the side of his neck.
I had last seen him around six years ago but he looked exactly the same.
He smiled broadly, lips pressed together so he didn't show his teeth.
His voice was deeper, manlier. I forgot to expect that.
“How are you?”
He chuckled, stopping abruptly.
“I abandoned you when you were eight and the first thing you ask is how I am.”
When I didn't say anything, he looked my dead in the eye, an expression that was a mix of serious and calm flooding over his face.
How are you, Laurali?
With that, I screamed.