Iris Hale: HUNTER *NaNoWriMo Draft 2016*

*NaNoWriMo 2016*/
Periliares are a crafty bunch. You might know them as 'demons'. They hate that word. The idea that all of them are evil is idiotic. The same way all humans aren't evil, not all periliares are evil. Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them have superiority complexes. That's where I come in. Most of them view themselves as gods, which is fine, whatever. But the second they think they can kill more than their fill, I have an issue.
My name is Iris Hale, and I'm a hunter.
/©Molly Looby

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10. Ten

On the train home, I wanted nothing more than to fall asleep, but I had a ridiculous fear of not waking up again, so I kept my eyes open all the way home.

The candle in the kitchen wasn’t burning when I arrived home, meaning Sylvie wasn’t back yet. I scurried into the house and up into my bedroom, closing the door behind me. My heart was pounding, and when I pulled off my jacket, my shoulders tugged and ached.

I clenched my jaw and sat on my bed, going through the calming ritual of cleaning and sharpening my Teneculum before putting it back in its shoe box in my bedside table.

It took another ten minutes or so before I felt ready to look in the mirror. I stood in front of the mirror with my eyes closed, sucked in a huge breath, clenched my hands into fists, and opened my eyes.

The bump on my head was round and raised and obvious. But that wasn’t what I was most worried about. It was bright red on the lump and the surrounding area. I grimaced and brought my hand up to touch it. I so much as brushed it, and a huge wave of pain slapped me in the face, causing me to throw my hand away and made a squeaking sound.

So if I couldn’t even touch it, that meant I couldn’t cover it with makeup. And if I couldn’t cover it with makeup, that meant I couldn’t hide it from Sylvie. And if I couldn’t hide it from Sylvie, I was in deep, deep trouble.

“I’m dead,” I said to the frightened face in the mirror. “So dead.”

After trying to distract myself with some history homework for an hour, I decided to have another look. Not only did it not look any better, it looked a shade worse.

“What the hell?”

For the first time since I’d decided to grow my fringe, I missed it. I wasn’t good enough at cutting hair to try and cut it back in just for the sake of missing out on this argument. Plus, there was no way I was going to start from square one again with growing it out. I was just going to have to face it. I could do that. I’d done worse. I hunted periliares for God’s sake. I could’ve died today.

And yet, every time a car drove past, I jumped and tried not to yelp. How stupid. Scared by the least threatening looking person on the history of the planet. Damnit, Erin looked scarier than Sylvie.

I couldn’t concentrate on a single piece of homework, so I ended up messaging Erin on Chattication for the rest of the day, though of course I wouldn’t admit that to Phoebe on Monday. As far as she knew, I still thought it was a waste of time, which I did, but I was guaranteed to reach Erin in five seconds, so it had its uses.

I heard Sylvie’s voice before the front door opened. She was saying goodbye to Sarah and Rachel and laughing about something. I thought I was going to be sick. My heart leapt in my chest and felt like it was trying to kill me. My stomach was doing summersaults.

It was time to accept my fate. It felt like time to die.

“Hey!” Sylvie called as she let herself in.

“Hi!” I called back.

I heard the kitchen door open and the kettle beginning to boil.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “Go. Do it. On your terms. Go.” I gave myself a look in the mirror, cringing at the lump on my head, and made my way down the stairs.

I had to swallow down my fear as I made my way into the kitchen.

“Hi,” was all I said to announce myself.

“Hey.” Sylvie only glanced at me as she reached into the cupboard for the biscuit tin. “Do you want a cup of tea?”

“Yes please.” It came out too hoarse.

She turned to me, eyebrows raised. And then she saw it. Her eyes went wide, and she shot to my side, pushing my hair off my face. Her honey-brown eyes were looking a little above mine, but when they met mine, I wanted to burst into tears.

She deflated, took a step back, and crossed her arms. “Sit down.”

I did what she said.

She sighed and went back to making the tea. She was too calm. I was in more trouble than I thought.

I didn’t say a word until she took the chair opposite me and handed me my favourite mug without a word. I concentrated my energy on reading the words about friendship printed on the ceramic. It was a gift from Erin last Christmas.

“Iris Hale,” she began. It was the worst way I could imagine her starting. “Look at me.”

I did. She had her hands wrapped around her own mug. It was her name and loads of love hearts I’d drawn on with special pens. She always took care to wash it without rubbing off any of the print.

Her eyes looked sad. She didn’t look at all angry with me. If anything, she looked a little scared.

“I want you to tell me exactly what happened. And you are not going to lie.”

I nodded and told her everything from the moment I left the house.

Sylvie took a sip of her tea, putting the mug back on the table. The house was too quiet. It was wrong for there not to be a smile on her face.

“Why?”

“Why?” I faltered. “Why what?”

“Why do you feel the need to do this?”

“Because someone has to make sure the area’s safe from periliares.”

She nodded. “Okay.” I didn’t like the slow way she was forming all of her words. “Why does that person have to be you?”

“Because I know what I’m doing.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Do you?”

“Yes.”

“Iris, think for a minute. We do not have a national periliare problem. They’re around, yes, but they’re not causing us any bother. You shouldn’t get messed up in something this dangerous.”

I shook my head. “But if I don’t, who will?”

“There are other hunters. You know so. You’re a fifteen-year-old girl, Iris. You seem to forget that. You shouldn’t be travelling around to these places and killing things.”

“But I have to.”

“Who says? You’re your own person, and I don’t want to be in charge of you. But I will.”

She couldn’t take this away from me. I needed to do this. She didn’t understand. This was part of who I was. Who I was always going to be. “It won’t happen again,” I said to try and make her stop.

“You can’t promise that. What if you’d been a second too late? What if you’d been killed? What if you’d never come home? Do you understand that? Do you know the position that would put me in? Do you realise you’re not immortal?”

I looked down at the table. I didn’t want to see that disappointed look on her face for another second. It was ripping my heart out tiny piece by tiny piece.

“Iris, look at me.”

It took more effort than it should to meet her eye again.

“You could’ve been killed. And what would I have done?” Her voice broke. “You might not know it, but I need you. You cannot keep doing this.”

“But I have to.” I was only just holding my tears back. “Please don’t make me stop. I can’t. I need to do this.”

“Why? You’re too young for this.”

“I’m not.” I shook my head. “I can do this.”

She sighed. “This isn’t even the worst you’ve been hurt. This year you went through that window and broke your arm.”

I felt heat rush into my cheeks.

“I should’ve stopped you then, but you always plead this case of having to do this. Iris Hale, you do not have to do anything. You do not have to worry about anything. Let me worry about things. You need to stop.”

I sucked in a breath and sniffed back my tears.

“I know you feel guilty about Anima, but that is not your fault.”

I shut my eyes at the mention of my mother’s name.

“I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. I can’t lose two people to a periliare. It would kill me to see you end up the same way as your dad.”

I shook my head, but the tears began to escape. “I won’t.”

“That’s right. You won’t. Because you’ll stop. Toady.”

“Please.” My voice made the smallest sound.

“No, Iris. No more. You’ve had enough chances. Sometimes I have to be your parent. You are not allowed to go periliare hunting anymore.”

It felt like my life had been torn from underneath me, and I was falling into a deep pit. My heart was panicking in my chest. I struggled to breathe. “But—”

“Not only that. You’re not allowed to leave this house by yourself until I can trust you.”

“But—”

“I have to do what’s best for you, Iris. My word is final. It’s over.”

The words died in my throat.

“I need you to promise me you won’t hunt again.”

I opened my mouth and shut it again.

“Promise me.”

There was no way out, so I signed away my freedom with a heavy heart. “I promise.”

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